Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Year Anniversary

It's really hard to believe that it's already been two years since our wedding!

And, even more so, I wish we were heading to Paris tomorrow! We're not, obviously, but really hoping to go back soon!! Here are some pictures from our honeymoon.

Last year, Kevin and I were busy working on the kitchen at our house around our anniversary, our gifts to each other were our new kitchen appliances ;).  We went to Fearrington House for a delicious dinner and celebrated with an anniversary cake from Sweet Memories and Mumm champagne from our honeymoon. 

Tonight Kevin and I are going to Second Empire in downtown Raleigh for dinner.  I'm really excited because we haven't been before and they always get really good reviews. Plus a lot of their food has a French influence, which will be perfect! 

These last two years have been so amazing and such a whirlwind! It's fun to think about all of the things that we've done and how far we've come. I'm so happy and blessed, we can't wait to see what the future has in store for us! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Red & White Ombré Cake

This weekend was both my brother's graduation from NC State and Mother's Day!

To celebrate, I decided to make a single cake to honor both occasions.  I had to do a bit of searching to find anything similar to what I wanted to create and ended up pulling recipes from two different cakes for the final product.  I wanted to tie in both red and white for NC State's colors and pinks for Mother's Day. You've probably noticed that ombré anything is super popular right now. So, I decided to make a cake with a red velvet bottom layer and a white cake top layer, with pink layers in between... a Red Velvet & White Ombré  Cake!

Red Velvet & White Ombré Cake
For the red velvet-based layers:
2 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1.5 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

For the white-based layers:
2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
red food coloring (about 1 tsp or 1/2 ounce)

note: To make a four layer cake you will make two different colored 9" layers from each and there may be extra batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and start with the recipe for the bottom, red velvet layers. Grease and flour two 9" pans.  Cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add cocoa and about 1/2 ounce food coloring to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Pour about half of batter into one of the pans. Add more red food coloring to the remaining batter, so that it becomes a true red in color. Pour the batter into another pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely.

For the white layers, spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer. 

Pour half of batter into one of the prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops.  Add red food coloring, 1/2 to 1 tsp, to the remaining batter until the desired light pink is achieved and stir. Pour remaining pink batter into pan.  Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely.

To assemble the cake, place the darkest red velvet layer on the bottom, and add a thin layer of cream cheese icing. Place the lighter red layer on top, followed by cream cheese icing. Place the light pink layer on top, frost, then finally add the white cake layer. Frost the cake with a thin crumb coat of cream cheese icing and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Then, finish the cake with a smooth layer of icing and serve!

sources: Modified from Paula Deen and Cook's Illustrated

Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
12 tbs butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy, then add vanilla. Pour in the sugar a little at a time, be sure to scrape the bowl with a spatula often.  Mix until fluffy.  Frost the cake and be sure to store in the fridge afterwards. 

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day weekend! 
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