Nostalgia and a Birthday!

It goes without saying that if you are living with a gluten intolerant or Celiac person that real birthday cake is kinda rare.  Now it has been known to happen (twice maybe?) that the lady of the Farmlet went to the bakery and purchased a small real birthday cake with real flour and real gluten goodness in it for the man of the Farmlet,  but again, it is rare.

This year she tried to get the man to tell her what he wanted for his birthday and he finally said,

“Really, all the things I want I just go and buy for myself… so I don’t really want or need anything.”

WAIT A MINUTE!

Birthdays are supposed to be all about surprises, friends, family and fun!

(Yeah, I know, but it goes perfectly with the mixer…  OK, I heard that, you’re saying “What mixer?”  Wait for it it’s coming.)  🙂

It’s about getting that one little thing you just really wanted but couldn’t bring yourself to buy… (well ok, mine this year wasn’t so little, but it was what I really wanted and although we could really live without it, we really can use it.)

I digress.

Anyway, I couldn’t find a decent bakery in time for the big day, so I went out and bought a mix and some new cake pans to do the baking.  The new cake pans were necessary so as not to contaminate my bake ware.

I can hear you shouting:  “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BEATERS ON THE MIXER!!!”

Not to worry.  I had a backup!

Way back in 1945 the man of the Farmlet’s Mother got married and she got a hand mixer which she used at least once a week for making cakes, cookies, custards, mashed potatoes, etc. for her family, and she continued to use it right up until she moved in with the Big Guy Upstairs…

Now as it happens, we moved into her home and inherited most of the stuff she left behind.  Much later, when we packed up to move to the Farmlet,  we took the most important stuff with us.   So how did I know  that a mixer over 65 years old was important, you ask?  The answer is simply that I liked that it still worked, although I have to admit I never imagined I’d actually use it!

And so it was that I put down dish towels, got out the old Pyrex bowls from the 50s, and got to work!

Yeah,  I used a box mix…  OK so I cheated!  What’s a gluten-free woman to do on such short notice…  I ask you?

But the box mix was covered in real, homemade, chocolate buttercream frosting!

No, your eyes do not deceive you.  That cake is most certainly lopsided.  I’m out of practice after all, but I have it on good authority it was a GREAT birthday cake.  Now I am certainly not bragging.  Honestly, if you have not had real cake for years, well then, this one was pretty much going to be well received now wasn’t it?  😉

~*~

Using Mom’s old mixer and bowls somehow made it seem as if she was right there with me, and I could imagine her smiling as I worked.

~*~

Valentine’s Day Review

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I accomplished what I set out to do.  My pictures aren’t the greatest  (still haven’t sprung for the tripod) but they convey the mood and my meager success at celebration.  😉

I want to discuss at the end what worked and didn’t with the cake too!

Gifts for the sweetie…

Assemblage for the GF Red Velvet Cake

The instructions said to bake in two round or one square cake pan.  I wanted a round cake for a change so I chose to line the springform pan and crossed my fingers that it would work… It did!  However, it took an hour and a half to bake all the way through!

The setting

How did Chanticleer get in there?  Well… Bob intended to get me flowers, the ones he knew I wanted.  I expected that he would do that very thing, so I chose not to buy a centerpiece…  problem!

He went to get them and there were none to be had!  Poor Bob… he was really sad about it too!  I told him it was OK, and just put  the Ceramic rooster there instead, and then I moved him again when we sat down to eat, as he  is way too tall for a centerpiece!

So, not the best table I have ever done, but better than paper plates, and again it needs to be said, I haven’t done this in years.   Hummm, maybe next time I will go visit “Between Naps on the Porch” for more inspired place settings!  Positively dreamy… (sigh)

OK, snapping out of it!

The main course was the fish a la In Danny’s Kitchen and it turned out well.  Bob wanted more flavor inside the fish, but he liked it, so next time I will marinate it with a bit of lemon and jalapeno pepper (completely seeded and veined!  I want flavor not heat!!!).  Use caution if you try this because  you want flavor not Ceviche!  Leaving fish in lemon juice will chemically cook your fish and you don’t want that! 😀  The Udi’s bread was perfect as bread crumbs.  It stood up to the seasonings, butter, and egg very well!

(For the Gluten Free readers in the crowd:  To make the bread crumbs I had to chill the bread in the refrigerator.  Then I used the large grate side on my grater and shredded it.  From here it could be toasted with seasonings if you like, but I chose to use it as-is and added the seasonings and egg, etc. and mixed.  NOTE:  I had tried to prebake the bread and then process them, but it all turned to powder!  YECH!  Best to shred them instead.   You will be a lot happier!)

Now to the cake.  While the cake was successful, it did not collapse, or fall apart (thanks to the springform pan)  I was nevertheless not entirely happy with the recipe.

PROS

  • Best texture of any gluten free cake EVER!  NOT chokingly dry like most GF chocolate cakes.   (Secret?  BUTTERMILK!)
  • Held up to being baked round!  I am somewhat encouraged with this recipe to try regular cake pans next time.
  • Taste?  Chocolate of course.
  • Frosting?  Dreamy… with a proviso (see cons).

CONS

  • While I liked the texture I didn’t find the flavor to be exciting.
  • And while we LOVED the frosting we found it insipid on this cake.  It would be awesome on a cake with robust flavor like spice or gingerbread for instance!  But when the recipe called for cream cheese, well we were expecting the flavor and texture of the cream cheese to come through.  It did not.
  • Red Velvet cake should be red, and to accomplish this you need LOTS of red food coloring (3 oz.)  I used only one and even only one oz.  had a  strange effect. (***see comment below).

Next time I am going to have to bake from scratch and use the old-fashioned recipe that calls for beets.  It sounds odd, but if you think about it, well, it’s no different from eating carrot cake or zucchini bread.  Right? Oh yes, and I will actually make the recipe into cup cakes and freeze at least half I think.   That is of course unless I have company coming to help eat it!

So, all in all for a first trial at celebrating I think this one was good, but not stellar.  So no biggie,  I got all year to get it right!

I’ll write about the upcoming celebrations this year so you and I can see how I’ve progressed.   It will be an interesting journey, well for me at least, and a challenge!

Thoughts on buttermilk… I ask you, if the recipe calls for buttermilk, and you go to the grocers to get buttermilk, then why would you want REDUCED FAT BUTTERMILK?  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using buttermilk in the first place?  If you would buy reduced fat buttermilk, then I would think that it is the same as regular milk, because the regular has the cream skimmed off, but still has some fats.  Isn’t the cream mainly butter fats?  Am I missing something here?

Comments on red dye in foods: I used one ounce of red food coloring, and as stated, the recipe called for three.  It was beyond my budget to use three bottles at well over $4.o0 per bottle!  So I chose to try only one.  I’m glad I did!  Even with the less than called for amount of red dye in my cake it made for lightly pink-tinted _____ (rhymes with Bee)!  TMI?  Sorry, but I thought you should be warned!

Imagine if I had used all three bottles!  Scary.

Aaaah… Valentines Day

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

Image via Wikipedia

OK, we all know Valentines Day is Monday and  I have decided to actually DO something about it.  I’m making plans, I’m throwing caution to the wind, I’m…

Well OK,  let me explain…

Around here we have become very lazy about the celebrating and gift giving.  We, and I do mean me too, never remember with the exception of Christmas, to get cards for each other or little gifts.  Dinner out is saved for Birthdays and our Anniversary, but we still don’t get around to actually going shopping for at minimum a card.

I have decided that this has got to stop!

So starting this year I will be making an effort to remember.  Starting with Valentines Day and all through the year I will be making plans and getting it done.  Ha-ha-ha, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it so it might as well be me.  😉

So far I have accomplished ordering his favorite chocolates from See’s Candy (milk chocolate Bordeaux, which I happen to like too of course).  I found a card and put it away so he wouldn’t find it (OK, now where was that hiding place…?) why I even got him a new coffee mug from Starbucks!  OK, the card and gifts are covered, so now on to the dinner plans.

Although our favorite place for delicious food that we both can safely eat is the Bonefish Grill in Huntsville, we have two problems…

Valentines Day falls on a weeknight and that is too much driving, well OK, it’s not that far, but it is too much hassle, AND we can’t afford it!

So, I am planning for romantic dinner at home.  I even plan to set the table with the good china and candles!  Can you see me doing this?  Aww, me neither, but I am going to give it my best.  Have to start sometime if I am going to make this a new habit.  Right?   The two main features will be the salmon and dessert, and both came to me from friends on the internet.

THE MENU:

Main course will be Crusty Baked Salmon Fillet from “In Danny’s Kitchen.” The recipe will be modified to use Udi’s Gluten Free bread for the crusty bits but if you follow the link above to the recipe you can make it as he intended.

Dessert will be a cheat on Red Velvet Cake from the Betty Crocker website.(Thanks to Pam and Pee Wee for helping me discover this!)  This too will be modified in the following way:

GF Red Velvet Cake (follow the link above for original recipe)

Cake

1  box Betty Crocker GF Chocolate Cake mix

1 and 1/4  Cup buttermilk (I will start with 1 c. and check consistency, adding more if necessary)

1/2  Cup butter

3  Eggs (from my hens)

1  Bottle red food coloring  (is there a natural, non chemical brand out there?)

1  Tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa

1  Teaspoon apple cider vinegar (added to first cup of buttermilk when ready to mix)

Frosting

2 Ounces cream cheese

2 Teaspoons milk

1 and 1/2 Cups whipping cream

1/2 Cup powdered sugar

METHOD:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan or two 9-inch round cake pans and lightly flour, or spray with baking spray with flour.
  2. In large bowl, beat all cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).
  3. Bake as directed on box for 13×9-inch pan or 9-inch rounds. Cool completely.
  4. In chilled large bowl, mix cream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in whipping cream and powered sugar with electric mixer on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until soft peaks form. Frost top of 13×9-inch cake or fill and frost cake layers. Store in refrigerator.

Recommended tip for frosting the cake:  If making a layer cake then chill the layers in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight to firm them up!  (GF cakes lack the gluten found in the wheat flour to hold them together, so i will be making mine in a 9X9 cake pan!)

(*For all you die-hard do it from scratch purists I have included a link for you  to be magically transported to a traditional recipe and a vintage recipe which uses red beets to color that cake: click the photo below)

(this is my dream picture of a GF Red Velvet Cake!)

So what have you planed for Valentines Day?

Oh yes, and because this is a ground breaking new adventure,  I will of course let you know how it all turned out!

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® German chocolate cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 bottle (1 oz) red food color
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

//

    Serve with…
    Confetti Corned Beef Hash Confetti Corned Beef Hash
    Total Time: 25 Min
    MORE OPTIONS: 2 3
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan or two 9-inch round cake pans and lightly flour, or spray with baking spray with flour.
  2. In large bowl, beat all cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).
  3. Bake as directed on box for 13×9-inch pan or 9-inch rounds. Cool completely.
  4. In chilled large bowl, mix cream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in whipping cream and powered sugar with electric mixer on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until soft peaks form. Frost top of 13×9-inch cake or fill and frost cake layers. Store in refrigerator.
  5. 2 oz cream cheese, softened
    2 teaspoons milk
    1 1/2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
  6. 2 oz cream cheese, softened
    2 teaspoons milk
    1 1/2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup powdered sugar