This cake was perfect to serve for breakfast at the office. The angel food cake is naturally fat free, and the beautiful floral arrangement of fresh fruit and the plain low-fat yogurt as “icing” were the perfect morning treat for coworkers. The second cake idea drawn out of a hat by my colleagues was a cake “made of fruit.” I could have designed a cake shape out of just fruit, but I really felt that defeated the purpose of a cakes challenge. So I decided an angel food cake would be the perfect complement to some of my favorite things – fruit and yogurt. I was so fortunate to have my mother-in-law, Dawn, in town from beautiful South Carolina. She is a baker and chef extraordinaire, so having her by my side putting this beautiful cake together was truly a blessing. The inspiration for this cake was “architecture” — and let me just say that it didn’t turn out at all like architecture. There were spirals and such in mind for the original sketches, but given our deadline, it just wasn’t happening. What did I learn on this adventure? Cream of tartar is not, in fact, tartar sauce. And cartons of egg whites can’t be used in place of cracking your own egg whites for angel food cake because they’re pasteurized. Fascinating! Regardless of the obstacles, cake 2 was a huge hit.
Angel Food Cake Recipe
- 12 egg whites whites
- 1.25 c. sifted cake flour
- 1.5 c. sugar
- 0.25 tsp. salt
- 1.5 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 0.25 tsp. almond extract
Angel Food Cake: In a mixing bowl, sift together cake flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Sift it really, really well. Put the 12 egg whites in another large mixing bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes or so. (Normally one would leave them sitting out for 15 minutes, but we wanted a denser cake to support all the skewered fruit, so thought maybe less room temperature time was better.) Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar, and the remaining 3/4 cup of the sugar, a little bit at a time. Beat it at high speed until the egg mixture forms soft peaks. Add almond extract and vanilla extract and beat that in. Then, sift in the flour/sugar mixture just a little bit at a time, mixing at low speeds until it is completely blended. Pour it into your ungreased tube pan. Cut through the batter a few times with a knife or spatula to level the center and remove air pockets. Back on the lower rack in the oven for 35 minutes (we baked closer to 40, again because we wanted a denser cake to support the fresh fruit) at 375° and it will be a little browned on the outside. As soon as you pull the cake out of the oven, turn the pan upside down to cool.
Decoration: We used a tall, cylindrical vase in the center of the cake and filled it with a whole container of lowfat plain yogurt, then filled it the rest of the way with fresh blueberries. We skewered sliced strawberries and raspberries and arranged them around the angel food cake. Then, we put green, purple and red grapes around the base of the cake and filled in the gaps. On the morning of the big reveal, I filled in the gaps with fluffy whipped cream and put a dollop of whipped cream on top of the blueberries with raspberries in it. Yum!
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Chocolate Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
I don’t even like coconut. This cake was delicious. The first cake idea drawn out of a hat by my colleagues was “coconut cream.” Rather than do the standard coconut cream cake, I get to actually interpret the idea however I want. Neener neener. So I brought in a designer – Mikey – to help me with the aesthetics of this cake, and he had the excellent idea of turning it into a monster and using the coconut as fur. Brilliant! The cake itself is a delicious, fluffy, moist chocolate cake, and the frosting (or “glue” of this particular cake) was supposed to be a fluffy coconut cream frosting. Well that didn’t happen, so I added a little cornstarch to thicken the frosting up a bit. He hand-designed the cake, cut it out, and turned it into the goofy masterpiece you see below.
Chocolate Cake Recipe Ingredients
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup baking cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup oil
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup boiling water
Coconut Frosting Recipe Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 2 tsp corn starch
Also as much coconut as you feel like decorating with on the outside.
Chocolate Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting Recipe Directions
Chocolate Cake: Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt together in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat together for about two minutes. At lowest mixing speed add in boiling water. The batter on this chocolate cake is very thin and seems watery – don’t worry, this is normal. Grease and flour your baking pan. Bake about 30 mins at350 degrees, possibly more, or until your toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool in pans. Remember to take it slow and completely cool the cake before trying to work with it.
Frosting: In a double boiler, beat all frosting ingredients until blended. Place over rapidly boiling water. Beat at high speed untl soft peaks form. This takes forever. Take it off the double boiler and put it in a mixing bowl and beat it to death until it’s spreadable. I had to cool it for a while before it was even vaguely spreadable, and even then it was thin – but it worked for our purposes with the coconut. You spread the frosting over the cake, and press all that pretty coconut into the sides.
Decoration: You may notice that the coconut on our monster, Reginald we’ll call him, is not white. We dyed the coconut with just a few drops of food coloring. I mixed red and green to get a brownish red hue. For the details we used white chocolate chips for his eyes, a sliced Mounds bar with a halved almond for teeth, and chocolate chunks for claws on his hands. Cute, huh? Now to eat his face. And for whomever doesn’t like coconut, we saved the cut off pieces of the chocolate cake for them to enjoy.
This is not part of the 52 Cakes Challenge, but I happened to have some bananas aging and getting dark that I needed to use. Typically I freeze the ripe bananas if they fully ripen before I get the chance to eat them fresh, and collect them until I have enough to make my chocolate chip banana bread recipe. My chocolate chip banana bread is always a big hit at the office! Here are photos and the recipe to learn how to make chocolate chip banana bread. It’s too easy not to bake it yourself. 🙂
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Ingredients
- 3 or 4 black, ripe bananas
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 0.75 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 0.5 bag of your favorite chocolate chips
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash the melted butter and ripened bananas together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, the beaten egg and vanilla. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Add the flour about 1/2 cup at a time stirring it in completely. At the end, toss in about a half a bag of your favorite chocolate chips. I personally prefer dark chocolate chips, but I happened to have semi-sweet on-hand for the loaf of chocolate chip banana bread you see pictured above. Pour the batter into a 4×8 bread pan. Either non-stick spray it or butter it (I recommend doing this even if it’s a non-stick pan). Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. Cool the chocolate chip banana bread completely before trying to remove from the pan and serve!
This is an old recipe, and I made it before I knew how to decorate cakes even vaguely reasonably, so forgive the terrible picture. I will make it again soon so you can see how much better it looks with a little experience. 🙂
This is one of my most expensive cakes to date because of the Madagascar Vanilla Bean pods, which are typically 2 pods for about $10, and I used one pod for the vanilla bean cake portion. If it were less expensive, I gladly would have used both of the potent little pods worth of vanilla beans. (FYI – Sometimes an ad delivers on this site for a vanilla site – I bought 25 madagascar vanilla bean pods for like $10 from them!) For those of you who don’t know about Madagascar Vanilla Beans, you have to split the pod down the length of the long skinny thingy, then carefully open it up and use the back of a knife to scrape all the vanilla bean goop out to use in the cake. Very fun learning experience, and turned out very tasty!
Madagascar Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe Ingredients
- 2.25 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 0.25 tablespoon salt
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) softened salted/sweet cream butter
- 1.75 cups sugar
- 1 madagascar vanilla bean pod – split and seeds scraped
- 3 eggs
- 1.75 cups milk
Madagascar Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First, sift the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In another, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Take the madagascar vanilla bean pod, split it carefully with a knife down the seam and scrape out the many vanilla beans with the back of your knife. It is sort of paste-like, and it doesn’t seam like much vanilla, but it’s deliciously potent! Blend the vanilla beans into the butter/sugar mixture. Add each of the three eggs, one at a time. Add some of the dry ingredient mixture, a little bit a time, alternating with a little bit of milk, until you run out of both. Blend it well – but do not overmix this! Grease and flour two round cake pans. Divide the vanilla bean cake batter into both pans, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Cool the cake halves on a wire rack, and then frost or ice as desired. I whipped up a quick chocolate buttercream frosting and topped with fresh raspberries. I am so obsessed with chocolate and raspberry! This cake was pricy because of the madagascar vanilla beans, but so so worth it!