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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 08/28/15

Friday, August 28, 2015

VANILLA BUTTERMILK CAKE WITH INSTANT FUDGE FROSTING!!

   Here's another recipe found at www.sweetapolita.com .  She makes such lovely desserts!!


Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting










I have a real thing for the 70s. I mean, heck, I was born smack dab in the middle of them, into a family of much older siblings ready and eager to love, spoil, and torment an unsuspecting baby sister, so overall I’d say it was a pretty fabulous era. When I think back to my first memories of cake, they come along with my first memories of life at all: sitting around the dining room table with siblings who, at that time, would have been about 15, 14, and 8. I have particularly fond memories of the family birthday dinners gathered around that same table, eating the birthday kid’s meal of choice: my mom’s lasagna, my dad’s famous barbeque steak dinners, or, any other favourite of the time. There was, though, one thing that didn’t vary: the cake. Throughout the 70s (and possibly the 60s), I remember my mom serving yellow birthday cakes with chocolate fudgy icing. I was so young, but I can envision these cakes in rectangular glass baking dishes smothered with the icing, sprinkles, and colourful birthday candles. I’m fascinated by this, and I’ve asked around: it seems that many others have these same yellow & brown cakey memories of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the combinations of signature colours-of-the-era: golden yellow cake (or, should we say, Harvest Gold) and warm chocolate brown (or Rust Brown) frosting that drew them to this type of cake. The memories overtook me the moment I spotted this classic cake in one of my beloved baking books: Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, and I knew I had to try it. I also love the traditional layer-cake structure, the homespun feel of it, and the decadent-but-uncomplicated flavour combination of vanilla buttermilk & fudgy chocolate.







With a total of 4 whole eggs + 2 additional egg yolks, as well as buttermilk, butter, and a generous amount of sugar, this cake has a gorgeous texture and is a beautiful golden yellow. The process was different than I’m used to, with a mixing of the egg, a portion of the buttermilk, and vanilla to begin; followed by a whisking of the dry ingredients with the sugar; the addition & mixing of the butter and partial buttermilk; and then adding the initial egg & milk mixture into the batter. Confused yet? It wasn’t any more difficult than the classic butter cake technique, but just different. The switch in technique was a welcome change and resulted in a lofty and moist cake.










The frosting is made in the food processor, which was pretty exciting for me since I am in love with my new food processor and am always looking for a reason to use it. As the title suggests, it was made in an ”instant,” since you just put all of the frosting ingredients into the food processor and, well, process. Was really simple and fun to make, and the result was fluffy, satiny, and rich. As I always do, I used my favourite Belgian bittersweet chocolate, Callebaut, which makes it even more decadent and flavourful. I find that in these kinds of recipes where the main flavour of the frosting or cake is classic chocolate or vanilla, that it’s truly worth using the best chocolate or vanilla that you can get, as the flavours really come through and really are the main attraction. With such a yummy and classic frosting base, though, you can even get a little adventurous and add a few drops of almond extract, or, say, 1/4 teaspoon (or so) of instant espresso for a mocha version. Those are just ideas, but you can use your imagination and add anything you like, or, of course, leave it traditional & simple.
So, here’s the family in our yellow-cake-with-chocolate-frosting days, or, well, 1975. I found this while digging through old photo albums the other day, and I love it. My brother Andy, my mom, me (the baby who seemingly was the only one experiencing gale force winds that day…what was up, and I mean up, with my bangs?), my sister Michele, my sister Linda, and my dad. This was actually taken in California, where we were visiting our relatives. It wasn’t until I had 2 kids, that I really began to appreciate, and become in awe of, what my mom’s life must have been like with 4 kids, and this trip is no exception: they drove all of us, including 1-year-old me, in a station wagon (yes, with wood panel sides, I believe!) the 2,700+miles from Ontario, Canada to California in the peak of the summer months. What I’d give to go back in time and watch that go down!
Here I am a few years later, in my favourite red checkered dress, eagerly awaiting birthday hot dogs and, I would bet, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It was only a few short years after this party that the 80s were in full swing, and that I discovered frilly white heart-shaped cakes with pink icing flowers from the bakery, where I insisted my mom buy my birthday cakes each year for pretty much the rest of my pre-adult life. Hey, is that a Harvest Gold refrigerator I see? Of course it is! Were you a Harvest Gold household? Avocado Green? Rust Brown?







If you’d like to make this classic delight, here’s the recipe:


From the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting {click here for printable recipe}



Yield: One 8″ triple layer cake; serves 12-16


Ingredients:

4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature



Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans or spray to coat with vegetable oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.
2. Put the eggs and yolks in a medium mixing mixing bowl, add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Whisk to blend well.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, in a large mixer bowl; whisk to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to these dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
5. Bake the cake layers for 28-32 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes; then carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
6. To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread 3/4 cup of the Instant Fudge Frosting over the layer right to the edge. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and use all but 3/4 cup of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. With an offset palette knife or spatula, smooth out the frosting all over. Place the remaining 3/4 cup frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube and pipe a shell border around the top and bottom edges of the cake.




Instant Fudge Frosting



Ingredients:

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Method:
A large food processor is the best piece of equipment to use for the frosting recipe. It whips up the perfect fudge frosting, and there is no need for a boiled syrup.
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.
Sweetapolita’s Notes:
1. For the ultimate version of this frosting, I used my favourite Belgian bittersweet chocolate: Callebaut Chocolate – Pure – Bittersweet – 1 kg
2. For a mocha frosting, you can add 1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) instant espresso powder.
3. If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this frosting in your mixer by beating the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the flat beater for about a minute on low speed, followed by another minute on medium-high speed. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.
4. Frosting is best used immediately, but holds up nicely on the cake once frosted.
5. Finished cake keeps best in a cake-saver at room temperature for up to 3 days.
6. You may enjoy the previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.
Good luck & enjoy!

IKARI BRIDGE DIVING FROM BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA!







    Each July, tens of thousands of spectators line the banks adjacent to the Stari Most, the Old Bridge that crosses Bosnia-Herzegovina’s beautiful Neretva River in the city of Mostar. Undeterred by the Balkan sun, onlookers keep their eyes locked on the apex of the single-arch bridge where, one by one, divers enter the water in a spectacle of machismo and local tradition as they vie for title in the world’s longest-running high diving competition: the Ikari.
    As one of the oldest venues for extreme sporting events, the Stari Most has been the place to go for male rites of passage since it was first built back in 1566. Set in the Ottoman Empire’s regional capital, the Old Bridge connected the Neretva River’s two banks at its narrowest point, a strategic location that marked the centre of the city’s earliest development. The name Mostar comes from the “mostari,” or bridge-keepers who held watch over the structure from the Halebinovka Tower on the west bank, and the Tara on the east. In a city dotted by minarets and spires, and inhabited by Croat and Bosnian ethnic communities, Stari Most grew to symbolize the peace and unity of cosmopolitan Mostar—a physical structure that also bridged cultural divides.










    Much of the Old Bridge’s charm also lies in its tradition of bridge jumping. Crossing the Neretva gorge at a height of 21 metres, over twice that of a high board diving competition, the Stari Most has long offered men the chance to prove their pluck by diving from its highest point into the teal-blue waters below. In Mostar, so the saying goes, as soon as you learn how to walk, you learn how to dive.  It’s a rite of passage that makes heroes of men, and many take their first leaps during the annual Ikari competition in which up to seventy-odd participants can choose to make their descents either feet or head first. It’s no surprise then, that many of the world’s high diving champions got their start at Stari Most. Zvezdan Grozdic, the international cliff-diver










who has proved his mettle on the elite World Cup circuit, took his first plummets in Mostar back in the late 1990s. Although Grozdic now jumps from staggering heights off cliffs worldwide, it’s not easy to out-jump local legend Emir Balic, an Ikari veteran who by the age of seventy (in 2004) had taken the plunge over 1,000 times—the first when he was the boyishly tender age of fifteen.
    For someone like Balic, and the countless others devastated by the Bosnian War (1992-1995), the intentional destruction of the Stari Most on 9 November 1993 by heavy shelling, embodied the worst of the civil war for most Bosnians. As the stones of Stari Most tumbled into the Neretva River, the country witnessed the decimation of a globally-recognized symbol of multiculturalism and unity. With resounding











condemnation of what has since been called a war crime, the international community coalesced to support the reconstruction of Stari Most; and on 23 July 2004, the Old Bridge reopened in a celebration of renewed peace and partnership. After a decade of rebuilding, the ceremony was perhaps most touching when nine Mostar divers leapt into the Neretva River with torches in hand.
    Returning after a 438-year-old run, the reinstitution of the Mostar Bridge Jump and Ikari is a sure sign that the Stari Most retains a strong significance for Mostar as a symbol of reconciliation and courage.









When to Go to Mostar Bridge Dive
    If your aim is to take in the Ikari bridge jump, plan on being in Mostar the last week of July. The exact dates change each year, but the local diving club, the Mostarski Ikari, announce the final dates ahead of time. A call to the Mostar tourism board or a visit to their website in the month previous will provide you with the specific dates and times.
Even if you can’t make it to Mostar in July, bridge jumpers continue to dive on a seasonal basis throughout the warmer months. Enjoy an ice cream atop the Old Bridge and wait for the divers to make their appearance. A good time to stake your dive-viewing location is usually in the afternoon to early evening.









    Now is a great time to visit Mostar. With reconstruction and the rebuilding of BiH’s infrastructure, tourists are returning to Mostar in greater numbers. Although Bosnia-Herzegovina is not mine-free, the country is not considered dangerous, and Mostar is safe for all travellers. Mostar’s Old Bridge area is also a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site as a symbol of solidarity and peaceful coexistence. Preserved in the Old Town are Mostar’s unique Turkish houses and the Old Bridge.







Odds n' Ends

    These days, the annual Ikari competition has reasserted its prominence as a tradition within Mostar. Presided over by the local diving club, Mostarski Ikari, Speedo-clad bridge jumpers continue to enthral onlookers with their feats of bravado. They jump, not only during July’s Ikari, but throughout the warmer months, entertaining tourists and residents alike. If you happen to be in Mostar, take a walk along the Old Bridge at Stari Most. You might luck out and catch a young boy take his first leap to manhood in Mostar’s Neretva River.