All Baked Out

by Laura on January 17, 2010

in Blog

The thought of pulling another cake pan, muffin tin or loaf pan out of the cupboard this week is just too much for me. Yet, this morning, once again, I pulled a muffin tin from the cupboards and began measuring out fixings for banana muffins.

This time it for a small birthday celebration for Nicole at school, and it is requested that a healthy treat (i.e. a treat low in sugar) is brought in for that celebration. The reason I was making it this morning, 90 minutes before she headed off to school, was for one reason and one reason only: I’m tired of baking and didn’t have the energy to do this last night.

But, because I am of the practice of baking instead of buying, here I find myself smashing up the bananas for muffins once again.

I find baking very satisfying. It is often relaxing and gives me a satisfaction I just can’t get when I go the store-bought route. And, no matter what day it is, regular ol’ Monday, or a birthday, baking is a cause for celebration.

But, ever since Thanksgiving rolled around, I’ve been in super-baking mode. I’ve baked several pies for the holidays, countless loaves of bread for daily consumption, cookies, holiday bread and caramel corn for Christmas, two birthday cakes – added to the one Greg made for Nicole – muffins for two school celebrations, and something else I have momentarily forgotten.

All this, coupled with Greg’s contribution to baking (several loaves of bread, a pie and a cake), has finally put me in bakery overload.

And I know my kids are there too. They won’t admit it, but I have seen the signs. The constant parade of baked goods have made them throw out all the rules of eating goodies. They ask for cake for breakfast, cookies for morning snack, and, after dinner, as I place a bowl of fruit on the table, they’re asking why we don’t have dessert.

They have become accustomed to having the sweets around. Now, I have to do some detox with them – what I know will be a long and often painful period of weaning them from the cookies, muffins, cake and more.

But,

I need to find the perfect balance again; when to bake, and when not to. I’m sure after a few days of rest on a warm tropical beach, my natural baking rhythms will once again emerge. All I need is a few days away from the kitchen. Somewhere where I can kick back and relax, without the constant pull of the muffin tins, pie plates and loaf pans . . . and without the constant temptation of banana muffins, mincemeat pie, peppermint mint dreams and Greg’s chocolate cake sitting on the counter.

Speaking of Greg’s chocolate cake – it was fabulous. I’m picky about my chocolate cakes. So many are just too rich in chocolate taste, that it is hard to enjoy anything else with it. Yet this one, the one he whipped up for Nicole’s birthday after I suggested we just go buy an ice cream cake, was perfect.

Before I head off to that tropical island, I thought I’d help out any of you who might have the itch to bake. Here is the recipe he used.

Rich Chocolate Cake

Here’s a delicious chocolate cake that’s guaranteed to please even your toughest critic.

Prep: 45 minutes, plus cooling; Bake: 40 minutes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  •  2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups milk

 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13” baking pan or three 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottom with waxed paper; grease and flour paper. Or line thirty-six 2 1/2 –inch muffin-pan cups with baking liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3.  In a large bowl, with mixer at low sped, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mixture may appear grainy. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

4.  Pour batter into prepared pan.Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, 40 to 45 minutes for 13” by 9” cake, or about 30 minutes for 8-inch layers.

5.  Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Run thin knife around cake to loosen from sides of pan. Invert cake or layers onto rack or cool completely.

6.  Or divide batter evenly among muffin-pan cups (bake as many cupcakes as fit on one rack in center of oven). Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes our almost clean, about 25 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting.

White Chocolate Butter Frosting

Use this frosting on your favorite chocolate cake

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened (do not use margarine)
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, Swiss confectionery bars, or white baking bars, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbsp milk

1.  In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, bet butter, confectioners’ sugar, white chocolate and milk just until combined. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, frequently scraping the bowl with rubber spatula. Makes about 3 1.2 cups.

Source (cake and frosting): The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, Hearts Books.

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