#bakingtips

Root Beer Float

Anyone else struggle with living in the moment? I’ve been known to get ahead of myself from time to time… It’s that long tumble down a rabbit hole where something small today triggers an anxiety that feels like the world might end tomorrow… One thing that helps me chill out and work to be present is baking. (There’s nothing like a slice of cake to help you forget your problems! And then a trip to the gym to help wash the guilt of eating the cake…)

Truth be told, I’m pretty happy with the little life I've got going. I have a slew of fantastic friends, I’m active, and I have a stellar family that’s supportive of all my wacky decisions.  Baking is just one of those things that I can always count on to help me focus, forget some silly stressful event, and to just simply relax.  The pure satisfaction I get out of use my hands to create a product I get to share with people is hard to put into words… I think now is a great time to apologize to my co-workers who, unfortunately (or fortunately... I guess it depends on how you look at it), have to put up with all of the baked goods that find their way into the office all too often these days!

What do you do to relax? To rejuvenate? To forget about your worries?

This week’s cake idea came from my best friend, Eden (another fantastic home baker, might I add!). We were chatting about cakes (obviously) and I was really hung up on creating something using beer. (I love beer…) Of course I wanted to use a dark beer (I LOVE dark beer…) but considering the time of year and season, maybe it wasn’t my best idea…. So in light of creating something dark and heavy, Eden suggested something dark and a little lighter – ROOT-beer.

Huh? The only root beer cake I had come across was a fun cake that Courtney had created over @Cakebycourtney (another plug for another awesome home baker!) that she had named her Root Beer Float Cake. Well, I love root beer and I love vanilla ice cream…. The rest is history. I decided to take a stab.

This beaut is made up of layers of moist root beer cake, vanilla buttercream, root beer caramel drizzle, topped with vanilla meringue and root beer meringue kisses…. It’s decadent but surprisingly not too heavy. There’s no mistaking the flavor of root beer with its amalgamation of spices and sweetness. It brings me right back to my childhood watching the foam spill right over the top of the cup as vanilla ice cream is dropped inside…. Just like the meringue on the cake.

It’s the perfect treat for a late summer afternoon.

So if you’re dealing with a stressful workweek or if something in your life has got you down, why not relax for a moment by taking a big bite out of my Root Beer Float Cake and you’ll forget all your worries…

 

Root Beer Float Cake

  • 3 cups, cake flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups, sugar
  • 2 sticks & 2 tbsps, unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs & 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup, root beer
  • 2 tsps, root beer extract (can be found online or at a baking shop)
  • 3 tsps, baking powder
  • ¾ tsp, salt

Root Beer Caramel:

  • ½ cup, sugar
  • 2 tbsps, water
  • 1/3 cup, heavy cream
  • 3 tbsps, butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 tbsp, root beer extract

Buttercream: Click Here

Meringue Topping & Kisses: Click Here

(I make a double batch of the meringue recipe - one I use to create the kisses and bake, the other I use as the “foam” topping.)

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Cake:

  1. Butter, flour, and line with parchment paper4 – 6” cake pans. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place to the side.
  3. Lightly whisk together your eggs, root beer, and root beer extract. Place to the side
  4. Start by creaming your butter and sugar in the stand of an electric mixer. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy.
  5. Add your wet ingredients until just combined.
  6. Add your sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  7. Distribute the batter evenly between your pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer stuck into the center of your cakes comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely before assembling or before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
RootbeerFloatCake.jpg

Caramel:

  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once you turn the heat on, do not touch!
  2. Once the sugar starts boiling, Slowly swirl the pan to keep the heat distributed evenly. BE CAREFUL! YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET SPLASHED!
  3. When the sugar reaches about 320+ degrees it’ll begin to caramelize. Slowly continue swirling the pan until it evenly turns a light amber color.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Watch out! It’s going to bubble frivolously! Let it do its thing…
  5. Return the pan to heat and add the butter. Whisk until the sauce has come together!
  6. Let cool before using.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. Start by leveling your cakes using a serrated knife.
  2. Place one cake upright on the center of a turntable decorating stand and add a layer of buttercream topped with a drizzle of caramel.
  3. Continue the process for all 4 cakes. (Make sure your top layer is an upside cake...)
  4. Since I choose to decorate this cake as a “naked cake,” I add a layer of buttercream (starting on top and working down) as my “crumb coat” and then use a straight edge to scrap the vast majority of frosting off.
  5. Once you’ve got your naked layer, throw your cake in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes chill.
  6. Once your cake is chilled, you want to drizzle the caramel over the top of the cake and then fill in the center using an off set spatula. Once again, you’ll want to chill your cake for a few to seal your caramel coat before finishing up.
  7. Finally, once your caramel has set, you can use your meringue in anyway you want to decorate the top of the cake and then finish with meringue kisses, if you wish.

 

#KitchenTips:

  • Some of these cakes are complicated and have quite a few steps involved, don't stress. Does the cake recipe sound good? Does the caramel sound better? Start by trying a piece of the recipe... As you get more comfortable and familiar with the processes behind these different components, you can tackle the next recipe... No rush! Mix and max what you're creating!
  • When you cook sugar on the stove, you want to make sure you use a deep pan so that when you add butter and cream to the mixture, it doesn’t overflow.
  • When you add the cream/butter to your caramel, it may seize up and harden. Just place it back on the heat and whisk until it loosens up again.
  • Caramel is easier than it sounds. Just have patience and try it a few times… Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making it for all your desserts in no time. Spoon it over your favorite ice or fruit

 

 

Ombre Tiramisu Cake

Let's Get This Party Started!

Can we discuss for a moment just how beautiful the summers in Madison are?! I know I’ve mentioned, but the bike paths blow my mind! The beautiful trails permeate the landscape of the city making it easy to get anywhere without too much traffic or trouble. Anyway, this past weekend was my friend Mike’s Birthday so we planned a nice day of biking and eating our way around town…. And it didn’t disappoint. I mean, there’s nothing better…. Madison's food scene makes it incredibly easy to gain a pound or two on any given day. Shout out to @eldoradogrillmadison for the perfect Breakfast Margarita (it's a standard margarita... just a little cheaper...) and to Lao Laan Xang for the best crab rangoon and pork egg rolls in the city....

Okay, okay... to the cake. My first response to a Birthday is usually, “What dessert can I make you?” So I asked Mike's partner Eric for his favorite flavors... (because it's way more fun to surprise someone with sweets!) Eric responds with, “Oh… we’re not really sweets people...” My reaction? “Oh really? Well, you could have fooled me since the two of you ate 3/4ths of the cherry tart I brought to dinner the other night…. What’s Mike’s favorite dessert?”

We decided to go with a take on tiramisu... I mean cake... soft and creamy mascarpone cheese... oh and coffee! I don’t know about you, but it is necessary to get my daily party started with a cup of strong coffee…. So why not kick off Mike’s Birthday and “My First Recipe Sharing” party with this coffee-infused Ombre Tiramisu Cake

Layers of coffee and mascarpone frosting sandwiched between vanilla, chocolate, and espresso cake?!  YES. PLEASE! Not to mention the beautiful ombre effect both inside and out… This cake is much easier than it appears… One simple batter, divided up, makes your three cake flavors… and one quick bowl of frosting, divided up makes, your three frosting flavors. Check out the recipe below (and a couple of #kitchenhacks and #kitchentips) and start your next party with this stunning cake.

Tiramisu Ombre Cake:

(Adapted from Sasha’s recipe over at http://www.eatloveeats.com/)

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 cup, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup, sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cups, flour,
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (or ½ vanilla bean)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Coffee Syrup:

  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • ½ cup, sugar
  • ½ cup, water

Mascarpone Frosting:

  • 26oz, mascarpone cheese (cool)
  • 2/3 cup, powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (or ½ vanilla bean)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1oz, dark chocolate
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon, milk

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven, 350F. Butter, flour, and line 4, 6” cake pans. (if you only have 2, no worries! You’ll just need to bake your cake in two batches.)
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time until just slightly mixed. At this time, I turn to good old man power and begin using a whisk by hand to add the milk and vanilla until just incorporated.
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Using a spatula, add your dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and fold gently until all combined.
  • Now you’re going to want to divide the batter up into 4 bowls. (Approximately 1 cup each). Into one bowl, add cocoa powder. Into two bowls, add ½ a tablespoon of espresso powder each.
  • Transfer batters to your prepped baking pans and bake for approx. 20 minutes (or until you can insert a skewer into the center of the cake and it comes out clean).
  • Let cool before removing cakes from pans.

Coffee Syrup:

  • Combine sugar, water, and espresso powered into pan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and then cool before using.

Frosting:

  • Combine mascarpone and powdered sugar. (I recommend doing this by hand in a cool kitchen… Using an electric mixture will easily separate the mixture leaving you with curdled looking frosting… No fun. See below for a solution, should this happen.)
  • If frosting is too thick, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen the mixture.
  • Divide the frosting into 3 bowls (split in half, then separate one half for two quarters.)
  • In a heat-proof bowl, melt the dark chocolate and cool for a minute or two. Add chocolate to 1 of the smaller quarter bowls.
  • Add espresso into the other smaller quarter bowl.

Assembling the Cake:

  • Level your cakes using a serrated knife. Get those layers as flat as possible!
  • Place the chocolate layer on top of a cake turntable. Cover layer with the coffee syrup and then spread a thin layer of vanilla frosting on top. Repeat with both espresso layers, and top with the vanilla layer.
  • Using the vanilla frosting, spread a thin crumb coat to the entire cake then place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before finishing the frosting process.
  • To create the ombre effect, start by spreading a layer of chocolate frosting across the bottom of your cake. Don’t worry about being too precise… just get a nice layer across the bottom of the cake. Next add a thick layer of the espresso frosting across the middle of the cake and finish with a layer of vanilla frosting across the top.
  • Once you’ve got a nice thick, messy layer, take an offset spatula or straight edge and start using your turn table to smooth out the frosting. You’ll quickly see your frosting combine and form the kick ass ombre effect.
  • ENJOY your masterpiece and caffeine-fix!

#KitchenTips & #KitchenHacks:

  • You're going to want to work in a cool kitchen when creating and working with the mascarpone frosting. If the room is too warm or you use an electric mixture and over beat, you're going to end up with a concoction that looks curdled! BOO!

    • Quick Fix: Place your broken frosting in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of slowly simmering water and beat until it pulls back together. You can see the result below. Don't let it get too warm or it'll just melt.... Whisk whisk whisk and it'll come back together very quickly. I would then let it firm up in the refridge for a moment before using....

  • That leads me to another #kitchentip... Be cautious when using an electric mixer vs. your own hands... Sometimes your own hands are more powerful than the mixer... It's incredibly easy to accidentally over beat your mixture. Using your hand provides much more control.

Until next time, take some time to start your day with a relaxing cup of coffee.... and a slice of cake... (or better yet, just go ahead and combine the two.)