Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baking Cakes From Scratch


My first “from scratch” cake ever! I couldn’t believe it. It only took me a few hours over the course of two days, but I did it. (not counting lots of research at stores and online.) I wanted to see if I could make a cake for my daughter’s first communion before ordering one from a local baker. Something more special than a box mix. A lot of work, but worth it for the flavor and personal touches.

I like watching TLC’s The Cake Boss. Buddy’s crew has great taste in cake decorating. It’s simply fascinating. I looked up his cake recipe, and tried this one. I think I let it dry out when it was cooling, so be sure not to leave it out too long. Otherwise it was a great tasting, firm cake. It cut and frosted very clean.
Found this recipe at this website. I doubled the recipe to have 2 full round cakes.
4 cups flour
3 cups sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
2 cups whole milk
3 teaspoon vanilla
8 egg whites from large eggs
1 pkg cook and serve pudding, dry mix
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the egg whites and pudding, then mix at high speed until fluffy and smooth, for approximately 2 minutes.
Fill two 8 or 9 inch round pans full of batter. Do not overfill. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans then remove from the pans, and place on wire racks to cool completely.


Confectioners Frosting Recipe (used on outside):
4 cups (460 grams) confectioners sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons milk or light cream
Assorted food colors (if desired)

Note: For a softer and fluffier frosting use a combination of 1/2 cup  unsalted butter and 1/2 cup shortening. This recipe makes enough to fill and frost one 8- or 9- inch cake.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the milk and beat to combine. Then, on high speed, beat frosting until it is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap to prevent the frosting from drying out.

This frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using. Add a little milk or sugar if needed to get the right consistency.

Tint portions of frosting with desired food color (I use the gel paste food coloring that is available at cake decorating stores and party stores).
To make a Chocolate Frosting prepare the above recipe but beat into finished frosting, four ounces (120 grams) of melted and cooled unsweetened chocolate. Add a little extra milk if needed.

GANACHE FROSTING (used between layers, could double):

7 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate chips (Toll House)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons shortening
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For frosting, in a small saucepan or double boiler pots, melt chocolate with cream over low heat; stir until blended. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a small bowl; cool until mixture reaches room temperature, can refrigerate.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in marshmallow creme and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture. Refrigerate if warm. When cooled, beat/whip until light and fluffy.

* This tastes awesome on top of banana bread/cake.

With cake’s flat bottom on counter, use a serrated knife to cut off and level the tops. Add ganache filling on one cake top. Turn other cake upside down on top of ganache. This will give you a flat top cake. Frost cake with Buttercream Frosting and decorate as desired. (Lick whisk clean!) I used piping tips for flowers, leaves and vines. I got the chocolate cross at Target during their Easter sale.

More First Communion Cake Ideas Here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jesse “Tea” Party

Jesse Tea Party
I did not have my Jesse Tree ornaments ready for Advent/December, so I took other homeschooler’s ideas (including this one) for having  Jesse Tea Party that was all inclusive of food and scripture.

Here are some pictures, then directions below. Needless to say it was a big hit!

Jesse Tea PartyJesse Tea PartyJesse Tea PartyJesse Tea PartyJesse Tea Party Jesse Tea Party       
Jesse Tea Party Jesse Tea Party Jesse Tea Party 
Directions taken from other blogs:

A Jesse Tea Menu
Jesse Tea
Adam's Apple
Noah's Ark
Abraham's Stars
Isaac's Bundle of Sticks
Jacob's Ladder
Joseph's Coat of Many Colors
The Burning Bush
Moses' Tablets of the Law
The Root of Jesse
David's Star Tea Sandwiches
Bethlehem, House of Bread (optional)
John the Baptist's Honey

Jonah and the Whale
Angelic Messengers (optional)
Pure White Cakes for Our Blessed Mother OR Flowers of Jesse (or both)

How to shorten this Tea, if needed:
Host a "Tea of Promises," emphasizing God's Covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, along with the Blessed Mother as the promised "Woman" of Genesis.

Recipes and Suggestions
As with the Lenten and Easter Teas, small cards with the Biblical Quotes handwritten or printed on them add to the display and reinforce the symbolism for the children.

1. "Jesse Tea"
Children love plays on words. Any type of tea or "Adam's Apple Cider."

2. "Adam's Apple" (Genesis 3: 6)
"And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat." Gen. 3: 6

A bowl of apples, maybe with some gummi worm serpants

3. "Noah's Ark" (Genesis 9: 12-17)
"And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth. And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds: And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh.And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth. And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh upon the earth. " Gen. 9: 12-17

Rainbows can be represented by gummi fruit slices or Skittles. You can go on the theme of Noah's Ark with animal crackers two by two, or "Deviled Egg arks" 

4. Abraham's Stars (Genesis 15: 5)
"And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars, if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be." Gen. 15: 5

Anything star shaped works, like star fruit or Gerber's toddler treats.

Jesse Tea Party 

5. "Isaac's Bundle of Sticks" (Genesis 22: 6)
"And he took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son: and he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword." Gen. 22: 6

Abraham's son, Isaac, carried the bundle of sticks for the sacrifice as a precursor to the wood of the cross carried by God's Only Begotten Son on Calvary. For this symbol, put exactly eight small pretzel sticks per child into bundles, and tie them with a bit of embroidery floss or melt them together with string cheese.

Isaac's Bundle of Sticks: Pretzels wrapped with string or string cheese

6. "Jacob's Ladder" (Genesis 28: 12)
"And he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven: the angels also of God ascending and descending by it." Gen. 28: 12

To commemorate Isaac's son Jacob's flight from the fury of his brother Esau, and the prophetic dream he had along the way, have the children remove the floss from their pretzel sticks and arrange them on plates in the shape of two-runged ladders--or perhaps even one long shared ladder in the middle of the table.

Using Isaac's Bundle of Sticks, each person makes their own ladder.
Jesse Tea Party

7. "Joseph's Coat of Many Colors" (Genesis 37: 3-4)
"Now Israel loved Joseph above all his sons, because he had him in his old age: and he made him a coat of divers colours. And his brethren seeing that he was loved by his father, more than all his sons, hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him." Gen. 37: 3-4

We made peanut butter and jelly circle sandwiches, topped with some PB and sprinkled. Another thought would be to use ginger bread cookies, frosting the coat area and sprinkling with colored sugars.

8. "The Burning Bush" (Exodus 3: 2-3)
"And the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. And Moses said: I will go and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." Exodus 3: 2-3

I love this idea and went with it! Broccoli florets look exactly like tiny green bushes. Add a bit of Thousand Island or a red dressing to each to remember the flame that burned but did not consume the bush.

 Jesse Tea Party

9. "Moses' Tablets of the Law" (Exodus 34: 1)
"And after this he said: Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the former, and I will write upon them the words which were in the tables, which thou brokest." Exodus 34: 1

 One mom took so much time writing the numbers on Milano cookie stone tablets. I was happy with them plain or the number 10 written on each with frosting.

10. "The Root of Jesse" (Isaiah 11: 1 and 10)
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root." and "In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious." Isaiah 11: 1 and 10

Show the children a root vegetable, such as a carrot, fragrant ginger, jicima, etc preferably with the plant still attached, and explain how the root forms the base from which a plant can grow and flourish. Then let them help themselves from a bowl of carrots to represent "The Root of Jesse."

11. "David's Star Tea Sandwiches" (1 Samuel 17: 12-51)
1 Samuel 17 begins with the story of David and Goliath. It ends…
"58 Whose son are you, young man?" Saul asked him. David said, "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem."

Cutting deli or grilled cheese sandwiches with a star cookie cutter is the simplest method. Or at least some cheese slices cut and layered to look like the Star of David.

12. "Bethlehem, House of Bread" (Matthew 2: 5-6)
"But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel" Matthew 2: 5-6

God promised that the Savior would be born in the City of David, Bethlehem. Bethlehem means "House of Bread." Have some rolls with the honey from the next item.

13. "John the Baptist's Honey" (Luke 1: 41; Matthew 3: 3)
"And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb." Luke 1: 41

St. John the Baptist spent his life exhorting others to Prepare for the coming of Our Lord, living on honey and wild locusts in the desert. Any honey or honey sticks would be delicious on the rolls or PB sandwiches.

14. "Angelic Messengers" (optional)
"And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. " Luke 1:26-28

Cookies, Angel Food Cake or a little package of Lindt Angels for this tea.

15. Jonah and the Whale
"Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. And Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the fish. " Jonah 2: 1-2

Whale or Goldfish crackers

16.. "Pure White Cakes for Our Blessed Mother" or "Flowers of Jesse" or both
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. " Isaiah 11:1-3

"Mary's Fiat brought our Redeemer into the world, and no Advent Tea would be complete without a vivid reminder of her. One thought would be to bake pure white cupcakes to represent her spotless, perfect purity.

If you are pressed for time and unable to bake, make quick "Flowers of Jesse" out of red and green spice drops, readily available this time of year. Press down the red spice drop with your thumb as if you were making thumbprint cookies. This will form the rose. Then do the same for a green spice drop, cutting it in half to form two leaves arranged around each flower.

These make a perfect final course to the Tea on their own, but the ambitious may use them to decorate "Our Lady's Cakes." I love the idea of the vibrant Flowers springing from the pure white cakes, reminding the children of Our Lady and her Divine Son. These would be great for Christmas as well. "

I also took the opportunity to introduce the Candy Cane Story.

Enjoy! Please share if you had a Jesse Tea Party…

"For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." Matthew 3: 3


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