Thursday, February 26, 2015

Devil's Food Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream

That's right, I haven't abandoned Moist Bundt. I'm back. Truly, I never left. I've just been busy -- hosting friends and family in LA, and not writing. Those two things can take up a lot of time.

But, here we are. I'm bestowing upon you a delicious cake recipe with a whipped cream that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I was rewarded for that risk. You will be, too.

I've been a scosche homesick the past few days. Weird, right? Things are going really well in LA. And by "really well" I mean things are fine and I'm seeing shows and doing some shows and I have friends. Winter is a great time to be away from Minnesota. Arguably the best. Not once this year have I had to dig my car out from a snow trench, or perform the delicate ritual of turning on the defroster/scraping/using windshield wiper fluid. I haven't bit it on black ice. But now... now Minnesota is starting to plan for summer, and I am, too. Things are gearing up for the Twin Cities Improv Festival, which I'll come home for in June. I recently found out I'll get to write and put up another play in the Minnesota Fringe Festival (I'm heavily leaning towards the subject of sister wives). And I long for an afternoon at Target Field, watching Twins baseball and sipping a Grainbelt. I'll get to do all of these things, but just not for a few more months. Neither will Minnesota. So, I guess in the meantime, I should just enjoy the sunshine and shut the eff up.

What I don't miss in the transition from spring to summer is tornado season. I just absolutely cannot deal. Tornadoes are my ultimate biggest fear, aside from death and, like, certain social situations. One could say I don't have a specific "reason" to fear tornadoes as much as I do, but NEWS FLASH, WE SHOULD ALL FEAR TORNADOES AS MUCH AS I DO. They are terrifying forces of nature that come down from the sky and destroy everything. Stop filming them. Get off your porch. Seek shelter.

I became so good at assessing the feel of weather patterns that by Jr. High, I could accurately predict forthcoming severe weather on a sunny and pleasant morning. I would spend entire summer days planning how quickly I could get to a basement around 5pm when a severe thunderstorm would hit. Real fun to be around, always.

I'm sure watching The Wizard of Oz upwards of three times a day in my first formative years didn't help anything (cool parenting). The Wicked Witch? Please. I *got* her. I *was* her (for Halloween, four years in a row). The tornado is the biggest antagonist in that film and don't even try to tell me it's the inciting incident and it takes her to a magical land she wouldn't have otherwise experienced, because it's just straight-up the villain.

My fear of tornadoes didn't necessarily *help* me socially. There was an incident in 5th grade that I still can't scientifically explain. Maybe you nerds can help. I was chilling on the handicap swing during recess, like you do, singing Smash Mouth's All Star to myself. Suddenly, a brief but mighty tornadic and circular gust of wind hit me and it WHIPPED ME AROUND in the handicap swing so aggressively, I THREW UP. The gust continued along the playground, ultimately seizing someone's notebook and Pokemon cards and CARRYING THEM INTO THE SKY, never to be seen again. LIKE, DISAPPEARED FOREVER. They probably went to Oz, where munchkins embraced the trading card trend.

Andrea Klaassen didn't remember these swings, so here's a visual.

Our school was right next to a major highway, so I don't know if some kind of semi truck wind-lock caused this weather phenomenon -- just another reason our school was not safe next a major highway. Of course, because it's my life, we happened to have a planned tornado drill later that afternoon. We all filed into the hallways and assumed the position and of course I started sobbing, because why couldn't everyone remember I had basically already lived through a tornado that day?? Kids were... unkind.

Then, in 7th grade, an event which most of my friends still remember -- we experienced a real tornado warning (that's a step up from a watch, people, that means it's HAPPENING) in the last period of school. We were in gym class when the sirens went off -- appropriate, because anytime a bunch of gross 7th graders are wearing their unwashed gym uniforms, there should be sirens. We sought shelter in the girls' locker room, which was incredibly exciting for all of the dumb boys. Great, congratulations, you're going to die crouched next to Clair Wenzel's locker, how awesome for you. While most of the class was exploring flirting, I was crying and listening in on Mrs. Gleason's walkie-talkie. Apparently the funnel cloud was DIRECTLY ABOVE THE SCHOOL. I lost my mind. Turns out there was no damage and nothing really happened. Kids were... unkind.

Now, I can translate my fear of tornadoes to other natural disasters that occur in my new home -- earthquakes, mud slides and career failure.

Time for cake! The recipe I found worked in ounces, which is just, like, total bullshit. I've modified the amounts for REGULAR HUMANS. It's still annoying. We all have our crosses to bear.

Devil's Food Cake with Raspberry Whipped Cream


 1 cup boiling water
(6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder) + (2 1/3 teaspoons baking soda) = Dutch-process cocoa
1 cup + 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
(2/3 cup all-purpose flour + 5 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch) = cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks

Whipped Cream
 2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 bag frozen raspberries
(This will make a LOT of whipped cream. Lots of extra for just... eating. Or for adding to Cocoa Krispies. No judgement.)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease two 9-inch round pans.
In a large bowl, whisk the cocoa powder mixture and boiling water until clump-free.

This bowl wasn't large enough. Don't make my mistakes.

Combine sugar, flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer.
Whisk the oil, sour cream, eggs and egg yolks in a pourable container and be 100% grossed out by this mixture. 


Add the sick-ass oil mixture to the cocoa/water and whisk to completion.

This bowl was big enough.

Using a low speed on your mixer or hand, slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry. Stop to scrape the bowl when needed, and continue to mix until smooth.
Eat some batter and take a minute to luxuriate.

Action shot!

Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 30 minutes. I baked the cakes separately, because I only had one pan, so the time might vary. Check the cakes around 25-30 minutes and use the toothpick test to determine if they're done.
Let the cakes cool on wire racks. Don't rush this. Take a nap if you need to. Do the dishes. They need to be completely cool. B-)

Just chillin', bein' cakes.

Whipped cream time! 
I hope you get as excited as I do about homemade whipped cream. Borderline inappropriate.
Get that whipping cream and sugar a-goin' in your stand mixer and witness MAGIC. 
When it starts to thicken, pour those frozen raspberries right in. This was the aforementioned risk and boy, did it ever pay off.
Watch as your whipped cream becomes even thicker and PINK and basically the most beautiful thing you've ever created with little to no effort.

I know, I know, I'm an American hero.

Apply the whipped cream to the top of one of the cakes and be generous. Remember, you will end up with more whipped cream than you know what to do with (eat).
Stack that second cake on top and go to town with that beautiful whipped cream. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Slice and enjoy. Repeat. Share, if you must. Eat whipped cream for days after as an accessory to any number of snacks.

Get in there.

This is a pretty chocolate-y cake and next time, I might try using the raspberry whipped cream for an angel food cake or something lighter -- although this combo did work.



Happy baking!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

GUEST BLOG: Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie with a No Fail Sour Cream Crust!

The following is a guest recipe (a "guestipe, if you-never mind, it's gross) by my dear friend Samantha Veldhouse. Sam and I have done many Minnesota Fringe Festival productions together, wearing several different literal and figurative hats. We also both improvised in Six Ring Circus at the Brave New Workshop and therefore, shared multiple beers and pizza slices at the Green Mill. She's an actor, a fiancee, a cat mom and today... a baker.


A couple months ago, Emily suggested I write a guest post for her blog, and at the time I was all “OMG! This is a dream come true, but alas I’m in a bunch of theater crap right now and barely have time to whip up some mac and cheese let alone a majesty of cakes and cookies and then write a thing about it.”

But as with all things theater, they eventually end and you find yourself with gaping amounts of time to fill, and after a while it kind of freaks you out and you wonder if you’ll ever be cast in a show again, but in the meantime you’re going to make a pumpkin pie and document the process with your cats included.

I found a giant can of pumpkin on clearance at Target a few weeks ago because pumpkin flavored things are only allowed in the months of October, November and mayyyybe December. February is not where it’s at when it comes to gourds so I got me a deal on 29 ounces of Libby’s 100% pumpkin, and let me tell you it was a steal at $1.95 (that’s a mere 6 cents per ounce). I decided to try the recipe on the back of the can because the women in my family don’t bake and therefore don’t have a lineage of recipes for me to swear by, so I’m left to my own devices. Also, it’s famous...

Was 9 cents an ounce. A steal, I say.
Keep in mind this recipe yields two of these bad boys, so be prepared with either a pie-hungry family of 16 or a calculator so you can cut this sucker in half.

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie (yields 2 pies!):
1 ½ cups sugar
1tsp salt
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
½tsp ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 29 oz. can of pure pumpkin
2 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk
2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells, which brings me to…

Oh hell no I’m not buying pie dough. Pie dough is, like, the easiest thing to make when it comes to baking. It is also the messiest, but I’m not keeping score of its pros and cons. Even though I’ve never actually made a pie, I’ve made literally (yes literally) tons of pie dough as I used to work at a mass production bakery when I was a jaded teenager, which for the record is not the best time in your life to have to wear a hair net every day. 

With that, I found this pretty great recipe for pie dough online that includes butter (this isn’t WWII so let’s use butter), flour, and get this, sour cream. I had to try it for this reason and also because the words “No Fail” were in the title. Keep in mind that this recipe, like the one above, also makes two of the thing it tells you how to make. Sure some pies call for two crusts, but pumpkin pie is not one of those pies because it is a badass seasonal pie, so you can either use the second crust for the second pumpkin pie you’re making, or for something else that's not in season, like fruit pizza. Or just math it up and cut the recipe in half.

No Fail Sour Cream Pastry Crust (yields 2 crusts)
2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar (only add if you’re making something sweet like a pie, which you are)
2 sticks softened butter (if unsalted, throw in 1 tsp of salt to make it taste not gross)
½ cup sour cream (full fat because consistency is key, and this isn’t a health blog)

I started with the crust since it needs some time to chill out (again, literally). Since pie dough is literally flour and fat, it’s pretty straightforward, but in case you’ve never baked a thing, start by blending your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in a large mixing bowl. I used the largest of my fiancĂ© Joe’s impressive set:

Pro tip: Don’t use the tiny one for making a pie crust.
Set your sugar flour blend aside and go ahead and cube up some of that softened butter you remembered to set out at room temperature. Once cubed, throw it in with the sugar flour, remove any and all jewelry, and use your squeaky clean hands to gently massage the butter into the flour. If it gets sensual, you know it’s right.

Not as hot as it's about to get, but you get the idea.
Add half a cup of sour cream to the mixture and use your buttery, floury hands to mix everything together. There is going to be a point where you think you've made a horrible mistake, but just remind yourself that pie dough is the easiest thing to make. Commit and breathe and soon you will end up with this:

It was an unwieldy journey, but it was worth it. 
Cut this ball in half, wrap both halves in plastic wrap, and place it to chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge next to all your questionable citrus fruit and that seafood salad you got at Lunds for half price because it was labeled as coleslaw.

Pro tip: get a kitten from your local animal shelter to adorably play with grocery bags when you’re done with them.
 Now on to the part of this recipe that makes a boring old crust into a pie.

Again, you’re going to want to start with the dry ingredients because baking.  Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a medium-sized mixing bowl. I didn't think to buy cloves at the grocery store because I assumed my culinary-expert fiance would have some on hand. He didn't. But he did have an actual spice called “pumpkin pie spice” lying around. Feel free to experiment with your fall flavor tones to find the autumnal zest of your choice.

Not make up. 
In a separate, large bowl (like, the biggest bowl you have), beat the eggs to an eggy pulp. Add the pumpkin, and the sugar and fall flavor tones your genius palette coordinated. Stir in the evaporated milk and mix everything together in all of its burnt orange glory. Note that I halved this recipe, and my biggest mixing bowl barely fit all of these ingredients, so plan accordingly. Libby likes her pumpkin pie and will make certain there is no shortage of it.

Pro tip: Get an older, more vocal cat from your local animal shelter and have it sit on top of your fridge to meow critiques at you as you combine these ingredients.
Remember that pie dough? Through the magic of multitasking, it is now chilled enough to where you can roll it out into a crust. Accept the fact that this is the messiest thing ever, and liberally sprinkle flour on your counter top in the name of gay marriage and Obamacare. Next dust off your rolling pin (I literally had to do this) and roll the dough out thinner than you think you need it to be. My crust ended up being a little too thick and therefore a tad doughy, which was fine because crust recipe doesn't fail, but I guess texture is important too. Once rolled to your desired thick(thin)ness, fold the dough into quarters and place it into the super swanky pie tin you bought for 50 cents. Unfold, and voila! Pie crust in a pan! 
Ah the magic of folding.
Here's where it's easy to make rash and uncalculated decisions for the sake of making everything look like a pie. I made the mistake of pouring the filling into the crust before trimming it. I only realized this as I painstakingly turned the filled pie tin to trim and pinch the edges while sloshing around delicious pumpkin magic. It was the closest I've been to a baking disaster in a long time.

Pro tip: don't do this.
Despite my mistake, patience and determination allowed me to trim and fold the edges over in such a way as to where it actually did start looking like a pie. I have no idea how to describe how to pinch the edges of a pie crust effectively, but I can tell you there's about seventy different ways to do it. I opted for the fold-over method I perfected as a child whilst playing with play-doh. 

That. Just do...that.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then pull a fast one by turning your oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes. A toothpick pierced through the perfect, smooth, and beautiful surface should come out clean once it's done. You'll notice that the pie has risen during its time in the oven. Don't fret. It will deflate once it starts cooling off and no, I'm not going to make a deflate-gate joke here. 
Harder to grip, but only because it's straight out of the oven.
Place your precious, precious pie on a cooling rack out of reach from the adorable yet ravenous kitten you adopted from your local animal shelter. I opted for replacing the vocal adult cat meowing criticisms at me on the fridge with the pie:

Pro tip: Maybe don't get a kitten unless you want all your food to be eaten behind your back.
Once the pie is cool (after 2 hours or so), you can either eat the entire thing because it's delicious, or you can refrigerate it and save it for later. I was amazed as to how perfectly it came out, and all I did was follow directions! This means that if you can follow directions, you can make a really good pumpkin pie too thanks to Libby and her bargain cans of gourd. And if you decided to include the part where you adopt cats from your local animal shelter, you can feed them any left over pumpkin you may have because they love it.

"I love this."