Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting

Pin It

Each year for my birthday, this is the cake I wait for.  It is a deliciously dense and moist white cake, with lots of frosting, served with whip cream and fresh berries.  When I asked my friend Georgia for the recipe, she just says "oh, I don't know, I just add stuff til its right." Uh huh.  I need to follow her around with the video camera!

So, this is my version of the cake-not quite as dense as Georgia's but still pretty darn tasty.  Usually, it gets made as a bundt cake, but I don't have a bundt pan (I know, you are wondering how I could be missing this important too).  So, I did cupcakes instead.  Faster, and easy to share.

1 white cake mix
1 C. water
1/2 C. oil
3 whole eggs
3/4 C. sour cream

Mix it up and bake for about 20 minutes for cupcakes (about 45 for a bundt...check the cake mix box).  The top of the cake should spring back, or a toothpick should come out pretty clean.

1 stick (1/2 C.) real butter, softened but not too soft
1/2 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2  jar marshmallow cream
3 C. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbs. milk

Beat the butter, cream cheese, marshmallow and powdered sugar in the KitchenAid with the paddle mixer (start on low so you don't get powdered sugar all over the kitchen).  Add 1 Tbs of milk and whip.  Add more milk if you think the frosting is still too thick.

Once the cake has cooled, frost, then serve with whip cream (or ice cream) and fresh berries (although a mix of those frozen berries from Costco is a good substitute).

Easy Rustic Headboard

Pin It

I was in the mood for building something, and my brother had recently move into a new place and needed some grown up furniture--so I decided on a headboard.  I was really inspired by the planked walls I have seen around on Pinterest made out of pallets-but no way am I going to nail and glue boards up on the wall...especially for my brother since he's in a rental.

I found the plan on Ana White's website, where all the plans are free!  I didn't take any pictures of the process, but the plans on the website are pretty useful.  I used a nail gun to make this task go super fast.  Really.  Once the boards were cut, it was about 15 minutes. 

Tip #1-Don't use fencing unless you want to spend a lot of hours sanding (sure its super cheap, but dang, I spent a couple hours with the palm sander).  I spent about $12 in materials, but I think I should have splurged to the $20 it would have cost to buy slightly nicer lumber.

Tip #2-Don't cut the trim pieces that go around the front until AFTER you've got the horizontal boards all assembled.  Ditto on the extra support piece for the leg.  I cut all my wood in advance, and perhaps its my novice skill, but things didn't line up the way I would have liked.  I ended up cutting a couple new pieces because the pre-cut ones were too short.

Finish-I tried what I had hoped would be a cool method for making a grey/weathered stain, but it didn't work.  I put a piece of steel wool in a mason jar with white vinegar for 2 days.  It ended up a nice rust color, but not grey.  Maybe if I had used it sooner.  Oh well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick Pecan Sticky Buns

Pin It

I do like baking, especially yeast breads since they just make your house smell divine and they taste so good.  The downside is that it can take a while.  My sister-in-law has a recipe for bread that takes one hour from start to finish, but I hadn't tried it out--so today seemed like a good day to change that.

Some quick internet searching turned up the same recipe over and over with slight variations. My sis-in-law uses the version with liquid soy lecithin, but I don't have any of that on hand--but I do have  a container of "dough enhancer" which contains lecithin, so I figured I'd just experiment and just add it (none of the recipes I saw did that, but hey, I like experiments).

 5 1/2 c. bread flour
2-4 Tbs sugar (I used 4 since I'm making sweet rolls)
1 1/2 Tbs. (heaping) SAF instant yeast
1 Tbs. dough enhancer (opt.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. oil
2 C. hot water
Non-stick spray

butter, softened
brown sugar

1/2 C. butter melted
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 C. pecans, rough chopped

Put all the dry ingredients in your mixer, yes, all of them including the dry yeast (I used my KitchenAid on this one and it was fine, but if you double the recipe, you'll need a Bosch).  Now add the water and oil and mix for a minute.  After 1 minute it should be all incorporated and look pretty sticky, if not, add a bit more water.  Now mix for 5 minutes in your mixer (or if you are doing it by hand, wow, you are stronger than me).

While its mixing up, I put everything away (including the flour! you don't need it again) and made sure the countertop was clean and dry.  Spray the counter with non-stick spray and dump the sticky dough on it (get your hands sprayed too).  Knead the dough for just a minute to get it in a nice ball.

I divided the dough in half and placed one half in a zipper bag (sprayed with non-stick spray) to save for later this week when I try scones.

The remaining dough I rolled out on the counter into about a 12x16 inch rectangle.   Spread with butter and then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough into a long log.  I use dental floss or thread to slice 1 1/2 inch long rolls.

In your baking pan (I had 2 rounds, but a 9x13 would be fine-I only took pictures of just the one pan, but I ended up with about 12 rolls) mix the melted butter and brown sugar.  Sprinkle in the pecans.  Now place each of your rolls in the pan, cover with a dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, they were ready to bake!

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  Invert on a serving tray right away and start eating :)

Since this was my first go-round, my total time from pulling out ingredients to eating a roll was about 70 minutes-not bad!  They taste very good--probably not award-winning when compared to other doughs, but very good.  Much better than the refrigerator/freezer rolls you can buy at the store.  

I'm pretty sure my sis-in-law uses this same recipe for monkey bread, dinner rolls, sandwich bread, pizza crust and more.  I'm going to keep trying it (adjusting the sugar amounts depending on my product).  Should be fun.