Babycakes and the Every Day Challenge
After my first babycake experience with the red velvet cake, I fell in love with it. I was inspired by Miette's tomboy. It's a no fuss way to frost a cake that also offers a visual variety from your traditionally frosted cakes. I had another opportunity to bake another cake last weekend as it was someone's birthday. I decided to make the Devil's Food Cake with Seven Minute Icing, again from More from Magnolia. The cake is a simple straight forward recipe. The frosting, however was similar to a meringue and took me a bit more than seven minutes to make. Frosted and ready to go, I put the cake in my trusty carrier and away I went. The cake, however, wasn't destined for local delivery. The cake was for one of my triathlon club's coaches and was to be presented at our annual training weekend, 200 miles away from San Francisco. My car was packed to capacity and I made sure the carrier was well lodged between items so that it wouldn't slide around in transport. The one thing I hadn't accounted for was the temperature and oh, also maybe one slightly steep grade that probably had a part to play in this..
Ack! Yes, I was very very sad. The top two layers slid off the bottom layer and rested against the side of the carrier. We were able to remove the top of the carrier and put the layers back on, but nothing could be done about the icing that oozed and got squeezed off of the cake. All I could do was present it to him with the "nice" side showing and hope that they thought the process of cutting the cake squeezed out the frosting. Despite the slide the cake made, it got two thumbs up!
This weekend's baking adventure took me away from cakes over to cookies. I'm not a huge fan of Rachel Ray. In fact, I can't really stand her and find her down right annoying. However, her magazine actually surprised me. The Every Day Challenge in the April 2007 issue is "Cookie Jar" and today, I decided to bake ALL three recipes. What I love about these recipes, is that I didn't have to go out and buy a thing. The premise to this feature in the magazine is that they are made only with ingredients from the "Every Day essentials list" -- not sure what this is yet, as I've only purchased of her magazines, but I'm assuming it refers to pantry items. Pretty good concept if you ask me. So without further adieu, I present to you my April 2007 Every Day Challege, yaiAnn's Cookie Jar.
L-R from back: Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brown Sugar Shortbread, and Lemon Cookies
Jumbo Chocolate Chip cookies, 8 ingredients, but no vanilla. I thought this was odd, but proceeded anyways. It's a very quick recipe, except that my cookies weren't quite "jumbo." The recipe is supposed to yield 12 cookies and ended up with 12. I did find the culprit though. The recipe reads, "Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough." I don't know about you but I read that as a one heaping tablespoon, which probalby came out to close to 2 tablespoons full of dough. Is "tablespoonfuls" a word? Should it say "tablespoonsful"? either way, I think it would have been a little more helpful to give an approximation of how much dough a heaping "tablespoonfuls" is. So if you plan to drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough, the cookies should be done in about 15 minutes, instead of the 20 minutes as written. Because of my measurement misinterpretation, my cookies didn't quite come out like the photo. The cookies they show in the photo are quite thin and I prefer mine to be a little thicker, being crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. I had one pan that came out pretty thin and thought it would be just burnt, but they're actually pretty good. They remind me of a lacey cookie. And the absence of vanilla? Didn't notice it. Overall the cookies were pretty good. Not the best I ever had, but I would definitely make them again -- and also with the correct amount of tablespoonfuls.
Brown Sugar Shortbread, 3 ingredients (butter, flour and brown sugar) and REALLY simple to make. However, I was NOT jazzed by this recipe at all. I've never had homemade shortbread so this isn't a fair comparison, but the consistency wasn't what I imagined. It was very soft and pliable. I'm not sure if it needs to dry out overnight, but if it does, it wasn't stated in the recipe. Flavorwise, I wasn't impressed. It reminded me of just eating a "crumble" topping, but it didn't feel like the ingredients even blended together. It was kind of like eating.. sandy butter. Does that make sense? Is this worth trying one more time just to see if it comes out different? Eh, I'd rather save my butter, brown sugar and flour for something else.
Lemon Cookies, 7 ingredients, and smells so yummy while it's mixing I had to stop myself from wanting to eat the batter raw (And I'm not a fan of eating cookie dough at all). These cookies are the most labor intensive out of the three, but they look so pretty and smell so good while you're mixing it up, they're worth it.
The flavor is lemony and not too sweet. It's a light, refreshing cookie. It's firm but not chewy in the middle, but also not crispy. It's definitely got some snap, but if you undercook it a bit, you may get that chewy texture. Would I make these again? Yes! Just the perfect thing if you've got extra lemons. My favorite part about these cookies is that you roll them in sugar before you bake them so they've got that sugar sparkle.
One of the lessons I've learned in my cookie adventure this weekend is to take the cookies out JUST before you think they're ready. For both the chocolate chip cookies and the lemon cookies, the recipe instructs you to take them out when the edges turn golden. I think the time period from "golden" to "more than golden" is a short window, so if you wait too long, you'll get really hard bottomed cookies. This is what more than golden looked like for me. For the lemon ones, these aren't ideal. It changes the flavor dramatically. They're not burnt, but it makes a significant difference in the flavor.