Saturday, November 27, 2010

Butter Spongecake (ala Julia Child)

I've never been a fan of baking, but since Thanksgiving was around the corner I decided to bake a cake. Every time I say that I want to bake a cake, I feel that I sound like that character, Laura Brown, in The Hours played my Julianne Moore who can't bake a cake. Toni Colette's character, Kitty, tells her, "Anyone can bake a cake." It's second nature to Kitty but it's something that Julianne's character feels she has to do. I didn't feel I had to bake a cake, but I wanted to just try, from scratch.

It was very satisfying separating the egg yolks from the whites, and using the mixer to make "soft peaks" and the "hard peaks". Making the frosting was another story. Let's just say I had to use a mix from a box. Ugh! I know, but I was in a pinch and MSH helped me out by providing the frosting mix. I still had to mix it and beat it to make it soft and creamy.

ere's the recipe for Butter Spongecake ala Julia Child:
Preheat oven to 350 degress

Ingredients: A round cake pan, 10" in diameter and 2" deep. ( I used a 9" pan)
Process: Butter and flour the cake pan. Measure out the ingredients.

Ingredients: 4 Tb of butter
Process: Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Ingredients: A 3-quart mixing bowl, an electric beater or large wire whip (beater is best), 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 4 egg yolks, 2 tsp vanilla extract
Process: Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks, add the vanilla, and continue beating for several minutes until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms a ribbon when you full the wire whip away from the mixture.

Ingredients: 4 egg whites, pinch of salt, 2 Tb granulated sugar, a rubber spatula, 3/4 cup cake flour (scooped and leveled, page 17), turned into a flour sifter.
Process: Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Scoop 1/4 of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Sift on 1/4 of the flour, and delicately fold in until partially blended. Then add 1/3 of the remaining egg whites, sift on 1/3 of the remaining flour, fold until partially blended, and repeat with half of each, then the last of each and half of the tepid, melted butter. When partially blended, fold in the rest of the butter but omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter cup. Do not over mix; the egg whites must retain as much volume as possible.

Turn into prepared cake pan, tilting pan to run batter to the rim all around. Set in middle level of preheated oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, is light brown, and has just begun to show a faint line of shrinkage from the edges of the pan.

Remove from oven and let stand in the pan for 6 to 8 minutes. It will sink slightly and shrink more from the edges of the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse on a cake rack, giving the pan a sharp little jerk to dislodge the cake. If cake is not to be iced, immediately reverse it so its puffed side is uppermost. Allow to cool for an hour or so.

If you bake two, you fill stack one on top of the other and filling the middle with your favorite preserve. (Raspberry tastes delicious with this cake)

Friday, November 26, 2010

African- American Friday (Black Friday)

In honor of the biggest shopping day of the year: a GAP Xmas commercial. Plus, it's really cold outside. Brrrrr.

Selma Blair and Rainn Wilson

Four weeks until Christmas!!

Plumber's Crack

I've lived in my house for almost two months now, and I've been complaining that I haven't felt like it's my home yet. However, after a brief consultation with J a s o n and his ideas on how to spruce up my house, I started feeling a tad bit better. Apparently, white curtains make a room feel more homey. They do.

My consultation, unfortunately, did not completely solve my melancholy. To add to my grief, I've also been complaining to MSH about the leak underneath my kitchen sink. Now, while he hasn't been giving me a gruff about it, I'm sure he wishes I would stop whining about it and do something. It's what we, as males, do. We fix things. We want a solution.

So, after much time being fixated on the problem, I finally decided to do something about it. I went out to my neighborhood Home Depot and bought something called plumbers putty, a channel lock wrench and another wrench whose name I can't recall. (Thank you to my brother-in-law Steve for talking me down from my ledge.)

After 2 hours of taking pvc pipes apart and then putting them back together (an enigma unless you've done it before), I ended up with a drain that no longer leaks! NO LEAKS!

Amazing! Pain in the ass, but still amazing!

Here's a picture of the pipes. I fixed the one on the left hand side.

My next project will be that long hose in the background that's leaking water into that Bruno's beer pitcher. It never ends, but, alas, it'll just have to wait for another day.