October 18th, 2010

storyteller doll

Cake

I baked two cakes this past week - a birthday cake for a colleague who turned 50 and another cake to take to Saturday night's story swap. Here are recipes and a bonus of my most requested recipe of all time.

Chocolate Cake

This was a Hershey's recipe, slightly modified because of what I had on hand and frosted with commercial ("boughten") frosting. The birthday girl enjoyed. I will probably use this recipe again, as it made an amazingly moist cake.

2 c. sugar (I used 1 c. white sugar, 1 c. brown sugar)
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (I left out the salt as I seem to have run out of it)
2 eggs
1 c. milk (I used almond milk since that is what I had)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water
1 (11 oz) bag chocolate chips (not in the original recipe, but they seemed like a good idea)
chocolate frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan

2. Stir together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer at medium for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (Batter will be thin.) Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

Sour Cream Cake with Caramel Icing

This is what I bought to the story swap. The cake was actually a bit bland and I doubt I will make it again. The icing got positive reviews, but I actually think it is too sweet. (It is like penuche fudge.)

Cake:
1 egg
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sour cream
3/4 c. flaked (unsweetened) coconut
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (I had bought salt by this point, but still left it out)

Icing:
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. milk
1 c. confectioners' sugar

Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch square pan.

2. Beat egg with electric mixer on medium. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until light. Stir in sour cream and coconut.

3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to egg mixture and beat well. (This will make a thick batter.) Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched lightly. Cool before icing.

Icing:

1. Combine brown sugar, butter and milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

2. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in confectioners' sugar a little at a time and continue stirring until mixture is of spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake.

Chocolate Rum Cheesecake

This is my most requested recipe. It is very dense and one cake serves at least 20 people, unless one of them is a particular former colleague of mine. Note that step 3 of the filling recipe is essential. You may be tempted to omit it, but I insist the recipe will not work if you do.

Crust:

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 T. sugar

Combine crust ingredients and spread onto bottom only of a 10 inch springform pan.

Filling:

1 1/2 lb. cream cheese
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 lb. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. + 2 oz. Jamaican rum (I recommend Meyer's)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. almond extract

1. Beat cream cheese until fluffy (using electric mixer). Add eggs and sugar and continue beating until smooth.

2. Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler. Combine with cream and 1/4 c. rum.

3. Drink remaining rum.

4. Add chooclate mixture and remaining ingredients to cheese mixture. Beat until smooth. Pour into springform pan.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Let cool in pan.
storyteller doll

Not Cake

This is one of my hodegpodge entries - basically everything but cake.

Follow-ups: Ron solved the mystery of my "303/357" note to myself. That's a battery size and I wrote it down when I needed to replace the batteries in two of my travel alarm clocks.

I solved the mystery of "3200-11" myself by (duh) googling it. It's a DoD Instruction having to do with test ranges.

I also did a bit of research on "boughten" and found it is northern U.S. dialect. I will note that I use it only as an adjective and almost entirely in relation to food items, though I could stretch to referring to a boughten sweater (as opposed to a hand-knit one).

Sometimes the headline says it all: "Car eating rabbits invade Denver airport." The story explains that the rabbits eat soy-based wiring found in some late model cars.

Weird thing to wonder about: Suppose a transsexual decides to convert to Judaism. What would an Orthodox rabbi do? I am, of course, assuming the person's history is known to the rabbi, but the question becomes harder in some ways and easier in others if it is not.

Fun with names: I was amused to learn that one of the largest manufacturers of glass for the defense industry (e.g. in night vision glasses) is Schott.

Celebrity death watch: I am slightly annoyed (though not at all surprised) that Barbara Billingsley (who played June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver) got a lot more attention than Benoit Mandelbrot (who did much of the key mathematical research on fractals).

Story swap: I went to the Voices in the Glen story swap at Michael's on Saturday night. There was a reasonably good turn out and the swaps are always fun. A particular highlight was hearing Eve's son, Jonathan, tell "Birds of America." I also enjoyed Bill's story about Elizabeth Bathory.

Coral Reef Update: The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit is open at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! It was supposed to open on Saturday but there was a water main break on Constitution Avenue, so the museum was closed. I saw the reef yesterday afternoon and it is lovely. The community reef is the biggest part of the display and is huge. I was able to find some of my contributions. And my name is spelled correctly on the plaque, which is always a plus. The exhibit runs through April 24, so you have lots of time to check it out.

USA Science and Engineering Festival: The inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival is next weekend. There will be booths on the National Mall and around Freedom Plaza and Wilson Plaza and in the Mellon Auditorium. I'm volunteering and will be at the Mellon Auditorium info booth all day Saturday, so stop by and say hello if you're there. And you should be there. It looks like there are a lot of cool interactive exhibits and plenty of performances on four major stages and several smaller ones. (In case you are wondering how I came to be involved, the call for volunteers went out to a local MIT email list. I went to the volunteer training yesterday, which is why I was already in the city to check out the coral roof.)

Amazing Race: I haven't been to Kiruna, Sweden, though I've been to Sweden and I've stayed at another Ice Hotel (in Quebec). My wrap-up is behind a cut since some people may not have viewed the episode yet.

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