Neapolitan Goosebumps cake

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When my friend’s son asked for a Goosebumps cake last year for his birthday, I had no clue what that meant. I didn’t know then that it was a famous children’s horror book series and there was a movie as well based on the book. A Google Image search followed, but most of those cakes seemed beyond my capabilities. But this particular image with black and white stripes and eye balls seemed doable to me. The top of the cake seemed too blank for me, so I decided to make the Goosebumps logo as well.

This, without an iota of doubt, is the best cake I have ever made. I am talking in terms of the whole package of cake and decoration. The base cake is same as this one, the slutty brownie cake. The cake is not only easy to make and delicious, it makes three 9″ cakes, which makes my life easy. The cookies and oreo layer in that post are replaced by strawberry and chocolate layers, which makes this a Neapolitan cake. So a layer of chocolate cake followed by strawberry layer and then simple vanilla cake. Each layer is liberally sprinkled with about 1/4 cup of sugar syrup to make it moist.

Fondant decorations look scary, but in reality its a lot easier than it sounds. Covering the cake is something I still struggle with as I still get a lot of ‘wrinkles’ at the base. But you can always mask it with a border. Handling fondant is like handling play dough. If you have the right equipment, you are good.

Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe source: Whats Gabby Cooking

Ingredients:

Base cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup corn flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

*Use 4 cups cake flour instead of a mix of flour and corn flour

Strawberry layer:

  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam

chocolate layer:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Filling, frosting and toppings:

  • simple syrup : boil 1 cup water with half cup sugar. Cool completely.
  • buttercream recipe, twice the quantity
  • 1/2 cup of buttercream from above plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • fondant for covering and decorations
  • 1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips colored with green food coloring for slime

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 9″ pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating at medium speed. Once the four eggs are combined well, add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  4. We have to add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the buttermilk. That means, we have to first add 1/3rd of the flour mix into the butter mix. Beat at a lower speed to avoid spilling of the flour all over. Once the flour is mixed in without streaks, add one cup of buttermilk and continue beating. Now add half of the leftover flour mix. Once that’s mixed well, add in the rest of buttermilk. Once that’s combined well, add the remaining flour. At any point, you can stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to help combine the batter better.
  5. Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes free of cake crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  7. Take off the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then take off the pan, cling wrap it two times and return to the same pan until its time to decorate.
  8. For decorating, prepare the butter cream. Take half cup of the buttercream and add 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder for making chocolate buttercream. Fill and frost the cake only after its completely cool.
  • Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves into another. Leave the third one plain. Bake until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. About 40 minutes or so.

When the cake has completely cooled down, level the cakes. Save the domes for making the eye balls. Anchor the chocolate cake with a little buttercream to the base. Sprinkle sugar syrup all over the cake and spread a layer of chocolate buttercream. Top with vanilla cake. Spread and level a layer of buttercream. Top with the strawberry layer.

Frost the cake with buttercream. Crumb coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding one more layer of buttercream.

Cover with fondant and decorate as desired. The eye balls are the leveled cake portions mixed with a little buttercream to give sturdiness. I wrapped them with fondant without any buttercream underneath.

The green slime is MW melted white chocolate chips. I added green food coloring once it was melted completely.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

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Baked Pasta with Ricotta cheese

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On most Fridays, my husband works from home. Last Friday was no different. I was busy with a cake for my friend’s son and so I had to make a lunch that’s substantial enough for the man but that’s not time consuming. I didn’t want to spend time in front of the stove when I had a lot to do. So baked pasta it was! I like this recipe as the hands on effort is less. You are almost done if pasta is cooked. The rest is just mixing a couple of sauces and baking.

I had tried this recipe two weeks back for Thanksgiving lunch. So I knew it was a good recipe. I had followed the recipe exactly that day and made a Rigatoni pasta pie. You can checkout this one minute video tutorial to see what I am talking about. But I realized that the effort of packing the pasta into the cake pan is really not worth it. I couldn’t fill each pasta with the ricotta filling and the pie collapsed when I cut into it. It was tasty but it didn’t stand by itself like a pie piece. It tasted amazing, so I decided to take the simpler route of just mixing the pesto sauce with the pasta and the baking it. It all tastes the same at the end anyway and the effort is so much lesser.

Read on for the pictorial.

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Recipe adapted from Tastemade.com

  • 1 12 oz pack pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Gemma’s hot sauce
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of shredded cheese of your choice

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente is fine. For 12 oz pack of tricolor pasta, it was 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1 cup basil pesto with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper for seasoning. I added 1 teaspoon of Gemma’s hot sauce for a spice kick. Transfer pasta to an oven safe pan. Mix in the ricotta with the pasta.

Mix the ricotta well to distribute evenly, taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the pasta.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly on top of the pasta and top with cheese. I used about 1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese here. Shredded Mozzarella would work better.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Take off the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Apple sauce cake

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I love edible gifts. Sometimes so much that I don’t even share it. Not even with my ten year old son. This was one of those kinds. Usha of My Spicy Kitchen had gifted me, Pavani and Mireille this wonderful apple sauce cake when we met sometime back. Her gift was a mini cake beautifully packaged and presented in a cute checkered cupcake liner. It was very impressive. So impressive that I almost finished the cake on my own (remember – it was a mini cake). But guilt won over and I left some of this delicious cake for my kid, but it took some serious will power…let me tell you that!

I got the recipe from her (from King Arthur Flour) and baked it soon after. And I am sure I will bake this again for this holiday season. I am just inspired looking at the recipe again! I don’t buy apple sauce at home, but bought it specifically for this recipe. I am thinking of making smaller cakes like Usha did so that it’s easier to gift.

The cake is made with whole wheat flour. It is moist and soft and I love the addition of raisins to the cake. This makes a wonderful snack cake. With the apple sauce and the whole wheat, we can almost label it ‘healthy’. Well, healthy if you ignore the amount of sugar and butter. Or maybe healthier compared to other cakes. My honest opinion is that cakes are not healthy food even if it is made with whole wheat and apples, but we are good as long as we are sticking to that one single slice. Or may be that single mini cake :D.

Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe source: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (113gms), softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1-2 tablespoon Icing sugar, optional

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C/ 350F. Grease and line a 9″ baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients  – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon – and mix well using a wire whisk.
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together well. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat it in.
  4. Now add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating it with the applesauce.
  5. Fold in the nuts and raisins gently. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  6. Take off the oven and let the cake rest in the pan for at least ten minutes before taking out of the pan. Slice once the cake is completely cool. You can add some icing sugar on top if you feel like.

 

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

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Eggless Whole wheat Buttermilk cake

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I cannot believe that its already December and the year is almost over! With December comes a lot of birthdays in my family and a lot of baking for me. Its the most busy time of the year for me. Still when Valli pinged about Bakeathon 2017, an yearly baking event that goes live every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of December, I didn’t want to miss.

I am the unofficial cake maker of my family and my extended family here. They are my willing guinea pigs, but for most part I have started sticking to only tried and tested recipes. This cake was baked for my friend’s sister, who also taught us the art of Reiki. She bakes a lot and uses whole grains over plain ones. So I appealed to my Blogging Marathon friends for a tried and tested recipe. I ended up using Priya’s oft repeated whole wheat cake recipe. The only change I made to her recipe was to incorporate an additional step from my regular cake. I added the baking powder and soda to the sugar-buttermilk mix until it bubbles up.

To say that this cake was stunning, would be an understatement. It was served for a group of fifteen and every single one raved about it. I really didn’t expect such a reaction for a cake as simple as this, and that too made of whole wheat flour. Since it was a big group, I needed three layers. I don’t know whether the recipe scales well (not all recipes do) and didn’t want to take a risk.  So instead of tripling the recipe, I ended up baking it three times. The recipe below is however for a single layer cake.

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The simple syrup is very important for the cake. In fact I add it to all the cakes that I bake and frost. Simple syrup is water and sugar mixed in 1:1 proportion. But you can reduce the sugar to even half that quantity and still get away with it. But for this cake, I used 1:1 proportion.

Read on for the recipe and tutorial.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup sugar*
  • 1/3 cup oil (odorless like sunflower or canola)

* Use 1 cup if you want it sweeter or if are planning to serve it plain. With frosting and the simple syrup 3/4 cup turned out okay for us.

Simple syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Frosting and filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170 C/330 F. Grease a nine inch pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a big bowl, add the buttermilk and sugar and oil. Using a wire whisk, mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the baking powder and baking soda. Let it sit aside for 5 minutes to bubble.
  3. Sift the flour 2-3 times. Add this in 3 batches to the wet ingredients, folding carefully after each addition.
  4. Pour batter into a greased and lined 9″ pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Take out of the oven and let the cake cool in the pan itself for 10-15 minutes.
  5. After that, carefully take the cake out of the pan and cover it in 2 rounds of cling wrap. Return it to the pan and leave until ready to assemble.
  6. Check the pictorial on how to frost and assemble the cake.

Heat the oven to 170 C/330 F. Grease and line an 9″ pan with parchment paper. In a big bowl, add the buttermilk and sugar and oil. Using a wire whisk, mix until the sugar dissolves.

Add the baking powder and baking soda. Let it sit aside for 5 minutes to bubble. Sift the flour 2-3 times. Add this in 3 batches to the wet ingredients, folding carefully after each addition.

Once the flour is incorporated fully, pour batter into a greased and lined pan. I have used a 9″ pan here. An 8″ pan would give you a little more height.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Take out of the oven and let the cake cool in the pan itself for about 15 minutes.

Once the cake is cool, carefully take the cake out of the pan, peel off the parchment paper and cover it in 2 rounds of cling wrap. Return it to the pan and leave until ready to assemble. I usually do this 2-3 days before the event and leave the cake this way until I fill and frost it. Prepare the sugar syrup and once its cool, refrigerate till the time of assembling.

For frosting and filling the cake, beat fresh cream with sugar until it holds peaks. I have used 3 cups of fresh cream here since I am frosting three cakes.

To anchor the cake to the cardboard base, use a little jam or fresh cream. I have used Nutella here, since I was sure that there are no nut allergies. Cut each cake into two layers. Keep the first layer and sprinkle it with sugar syrup liberally. I use about 3-4 tablespoons of syrup per layer and I just use my hands to sprinkle it.

Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, fill the cake with whipped cream. Build the layers, sprinkling each layer with the simple syrup and then filling with fresh cream.

Cover the entire cake roughly with fresh cream for a crumb coat. Refrigerate for at least half an hour. Cover with another round of fresh cream for the final finish. You will need an offset spatula and a turn table for a smooth finish.

For the glaze, add 3/4 cup chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl with 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons each of milk and butter. Microwave in short bursts (15 seconds each) mixing well with a silicon spatula after each burst until the chocolate completely melts.

Add the glaze to the sides of the cake and let it drip slowly down. Fill in the center and carefully smooth it out.

Run the offset spatula under hot water, wipe the water off with a kitchen towel. Carefully smooth the top of the chocolate layer for a clean finish. Repeat a couple of times until the top is smooth. Using piping bag fitted with piping nozzles, decorate the cake as you wish with whipped cream and strawberries. Refrigerate until the time of serving.

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Slutty Brownie cake

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BM # 82: Week 2, Day 3
Theme : USA
Recipe: Brownie cake

Brownies and cakes are part of USA food and sometimes they come together as a single treat. Brownie cakes are actually brownies that are then decorated as cakes, that’s not the case here. While browsing I came across something called ‘Slutty brownies‘ which is a decadent treat. It has three layers – a cookie layer, oreo layer and then a final brownie layer. When made with ready made cookie dough, crushed oreos and a box mix for brownies, its an easy to make treat and every bit decadent as you can imagine.

The recipe here is a cake version of the same. It is a layer cake with three 9″ layers – each corresponding to the slutty brownie layer. So a base cake batter is prepared and divided into three portions – one each for the cookie layer, brownie layer and oreo layer. This is a delicious treat by itself, it is definitely a cake recipe and no means resembles brownies or cookies in any way. I followed the recipe from What’s Gabby Cooking without any change.

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The best part of this recipe for me was it gave a single recipe for a three 9″ layer cake. Else I was using a double batch of a two layer cake which would always leave me with an addition fourth (and unnecessary) cake. I have tried the same base recipe and made a Neapolitan cake instead of brownie layers.

I have to start making videos to explain the cake assembling better, but until I figure that out, you guys can scroll down and read the recipe.

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Recipe source: Whats Gabby Cooking

Ingredients:

Base cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup corn flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

*Use 4 cups cake flour instead of a mix of flour and corn flour

Oreo Cookie layer:

  • 10 oreos crumbled

Cookie dough layer:

  • 1 tablespoon molasses (didn’t have any)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Brownie layer:

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Filling, frosting and toppings:

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 9″ pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating at medium speed. Once the four eggs are combined well, add the vanilla essence and beat it in.
  4. We have to add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the buttermilk. That means, we have to first add 1/3rd of the flour mix into the butter mix. Beat at a lower speed to avoid spilling of the flour all over. Once the flour is mixed in without streaks, add one cup of buttermilk and continue beating. Now add half of the leftover flour mix. Once that’s mixed well, add in the rest of buttermilk. Once that’s combined well, add the remaining flour. At any point, you can stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to help combine the batter better.
  5. Divide the batter into three bowls. Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder into one batch, crushed oreo cookies into another and 1 tablespoons of molasses and chocolate chips to the last batch.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes free of cake crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  7. Take off the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then take off the pan, cling wrap it two times and return to the same pan until its time to decorate.
  8. For decorating, prepare the butter cream. Fill and frost the cake only after its completely cool. Prepare a glaze and top with assorted chocolates.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#82