Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dr. Pepper and Peanut Butter

Tomorrow is another bake sale at work.  As per usual, I made at least 3 things.  I made puppy chow, peanut butter fudgy bars and Dr. Pepper cake.  I really need to learn to limit myself... but I don't think that's ever going to happen.  I've already written about the puppy chow and the peanut butter fudgy bars so I will not be rehashing those.  The Dr Pepper cake is a recipe my sister found on the internet and is really yummy.  The recipe calls for Dr. Pepper (duh), vegetable oil, butter, cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, eggs and buttermilk.

Side note: I hardly ever buy buttermilk.  I usually make my own by adding a splash of vinegar to milk.  (Thank you growing up on a farm and running out of ingredients for that little bit of creativity!)  That was the plan for tonight.  But, I couldn't find any regular vinegar in our apartment.  Both of us swore we had some but had no idea where it went.  We both looked in the cupboards and pantry multiple times... no regular vinegar.  I did have apple cider vinegar.  I figured it's close and it's cake; it'll work.  I've also subbed vodka for vinegar to make buttermilk for Texas Sheet Cake in the past.  That same time, I also swapped the vanilla for cinnamon (again, ran out of ingredients).  It ended up tasting like an Oreo and my then boss (who likes to drink) almost fell off her chair when I told her.  (The cake was for work.)  OK, back to my current cake!  (Sorry for the detour!)  The Dr. Pepper, vegetable oil, butter and cocoa powder are melted on the stove.  Mix together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a separate bowl.  The recipe says to whisk the eggs and buttermilk together.  I like to use the Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup for things like that.  The 1/2 half apple cider buttermilk and 2 eggs fit perfectly in it.  I've decided to start mixing more by hand.  It gives me a real feeling of accomplishment rather than watching the mixer work.  And I'm hoping to build some arm muscles.  (I'm a bit of wimp... not cool for a farm girl.)  It was really satisfying watching the bits of flour melt away when I added the chocolate mixture to it.  I almost forgot to add the apple cider buttermilk and eggs which would have been a disaster.  I enjoyed watching the dark brown chocolate color change to a lighter but still rich brown when I added the egg mixture.  (Former art major here... I enjoy colors!)  The recipe says to bake for 23-28 minutes... mine was still jiggly in the center after 25 minutes.  I checked it after another 3 minutes... still jiggly.  Steve checked it after another 2 minutes... still a little jiggly.  I checked it after another 2 minutes... finally done!  So about 32 minutes and the cake will be done.  Recipes irritate me when the baking time is that far off.  I haven't made the frosting yet.  Last time I made this cake was for Steve and Nathan's birthday.  The frosting seemed a little runny so tonight I'll focus on the thickness of it.  I can't take a cake to work if the frosting is runny and thin.
The unfrosted cake

I've also realized that this cake doesn't have brown sugar in it.  I'm thinking this has something to do with the flavor of the Dr. Pepper.  I thought about how the pop probably caramelizes on the stove as it mixes with the cocoa, butter and oil.  Interesting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just Roll With It

             This past Saturday I visited my sister-in-law Heather in Sioux Falls.  (The one that likes to bake as much as me... remember?)  I hadn't seen her, her husband Jon and their daughter Eve since Eve's birthday party in November.  It had been way too long.  Heather and I agreed to get together Saturday and bake.  She wanted to make lefsa and Wheaties rolls for Easter.  I was psyched.  I've never made lefsa.  I'm not Norwegian or Scandinavian so I don't have a clue how it's made.  I have eaten it and it's good.  (Although, I did have to ask how to eat it the first time!)  Heather has a lefsa pan which looks like this:
I had never seen one so I took a picture.  The dough has to rest 8 hours for lefsa so Heather had made the dough the night before while we talked on the phone.  The dough looked like this: 
However, the dough was stickier than Heather remembered it being.  I was no help.  I'm an Irish girl learning how to make lefsa... how could I be of any assistance?  Jon called his grandma and she solved the mystery with her first question: "Did she add the flour to the dough the night before?"  Heather had done exactly that and apparently that's wrong.  Sort of.  Grandma Y (Jon and Steve's grandma) said that their grandpa like lefsa to be crispier, to the point where it wouldn't bend.  We could achieve this by adding more flour.  Heather wasn't too thrilled at the suggestion.  We scrapped the plans to make lefsa.  I will have to learn another time.
              We did make Wheaties rolls.  This is another of Grandma Y's recipes.  Steve loves them.  Wheaties rolls are similar to cinnamon rolls in the consistency of the dough but you don't let them rise.  And the recipe really does call for Wheaties.  After letting the dough rest in the fridge for a few hours (and getting Eve's bike), we rolled out the dough and sprinkled some cinnamon on it.  Eve was a big girl and enjoyed helping.  We had to give her a little piece of dough to work with.  The dough was rolled up and cut.  The smell in the house as the rolls baked was divine.  The final touch: maple flavored frosting.  It's delicioso.  Powdered sugar, butter, milk and maple flavoring and you have a very yummy frosting.

      All in all, it was a great day.  (And I did bring home some rolls for Steve.)