Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Swirl Cake

We had some good friends come for dinner on Saturday and the weather was sticky hot!  I wanted to make a dessert that would be delicious but not heavy.   What goes better with hot and sticky weather other than strawberry shortcake?   This cake was a breeze to make although the finished product makes it look like you spent a lot of time on it.  My camera setting was wrong and I didn't realize it until days later-- so I apologize for the poorly colored photos.

Strawberry Swirl Cake
Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

1 white cake mix
1 pkg. (3oz) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool-Whip whipped topping, thawed
1-1/2 cups sliced strawberries


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Prepare cake batter as directed on package.
Pour half of the batter into medium bowl.
Add dry gelatin mix; stir until well blended.
Spoon half of the white batter and half of the pink batter, side-by-side, into each prepared pan.
Swirl batters together using a teaspoon.

BAKE 30 min. Cool 30 min. in pans. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

MIX sour cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping.

Place one of the cake layers on serving plate; spread top with 1 cup of the whipped topping mixture. Top with 1 cup of the strawberries and remaining cake layer. 

Spread top and side of cake with remaining whipped topping mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup strawberries just before serving. Store any leftover cake in refrigerator.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June Daring Bakers- Chocolate Pavlovas

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Okay, I have to admit that I did not partake in the entire challenge. This is the third recipe in the 6 months of 2010 that included some sort of citrus. Ick! I like citrus alone, but not mixed into my chocolate or into my caramel. Here's hoping the remaining 6 months of this year are citrus-combo-free!

I did make the chocolate Pavlovas. I never knew the name of these little treats. I always just thought they were meringue cookies. In fact, I make these Santa Hats each year with a similar recipe, minus the chocolate!

The pavlova was extremely chocolaty- I couldn't imagine covering this richness with more chocolate as the challenge required! So I served the pavlova as a cookie adorning a bowl of vanilla ice cream, topped with fresh berries picked from my yard. What a tasty treat! (My husband thinks it tastes like Cocoa Puffs!)

Chocolate Meringue
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/4cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder


1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200ºF degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.

5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


If you'd like to see the full recipe for the Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse, check out the results on other Daring Bakers blogs!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Knead Bread

This is the perfect recipe for someone that has little helpers or for someone that has never made a loaf of bread from scratch.  The results aren't anything you will find food critics raving about, but they aren't bad either!  It makes a simple, crusty, white bread that tastes great with a slab of butter, some homemade jelly or jam or especially your favorite soup!  The best part about it is how easy this bread is to make. No need to knead (no knead to knead?)- making it the easiest loaf of bread you will ever make.

My son insisted that we all wear chef hats while baking-- so he made us some (and yes, we threw flour on our faces to look like we've been baking all day!):

Even my husband got a hat!

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.