Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Pantry Challenge: Great Cake Edition

Last weekend, our family celebrated my son's 25th. As in, the Christmastime baby's finally getting his due, a month after the fact...

And that can only mean one thing: Cake.

As my oldest is very much into the birthday thing, she'd prod her brother daily as to what kind of cake he'd want. "Do you want a Thomas cake? Do you want a dinosaur cake?"

And, being two, he'd say yes.

Which led me to a minor panic. I've never been one to shell out for a store-bought cake, but I struggled to find any kind of cake decoration that would work. Apparently the sugared decorations you'd buy in the store when I was a child no longer existed. I gave up after several stores. I half-heartedly looked for a train or dinosaur pan at resale shops. I flirted with how I could make a train that wrapped around a round cake.

But Friday came, and I had to do something.

And I stared at the cake aisle at Target, eyes glazed over as I glanced over the different types of decorating options (yes, even a can that comes with its own decorating tops you can toss), and I realized, I can do this myself. I'm a big girl. I can mix eggs and oil and a box mix. At that point, why not bake it myself?

So I grabbed some eggs, some powdered sugar, butter, ice cream and a small tube of icing and decorator tops (no sense buying them more than once). It cost less than the mix, frosting and assorted items to add in the baking process. And Saturday morning, I went to work.

And strangely enough, my homemade (hand-drawn, even) dinosaur cake turned out ok.

Lest you think it's a fluke, it's amazingly simple to bake your own cake and mix your own frosting. Most of the ingredients are likely in your pantry.

In fact, I think the frosting is better and easier to spread than anything bought off the shelf!

Here's our success story, adapted from an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook:

Giradelli Chocolate Chip Cake

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup milk

5 egg whites

12-oz. package Giradelli chocolate chips (how these survived a stay in my pantry past the holidays, one only knows...)

Grease and flour two 9" cake pans.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffly.

Add dry ingredients and milk alternatly to beaten mixture, keeping on low speed.

Wash beaters.

In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into flour mixture with the chocolate chips. Pour into pans.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pans.

White frosting

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons venilla

4 1/2 (ish) cups powdered sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons milk.

Beat butter and vanilla on medium spead for 30 seconds. Gradually add half of the powdered sugar, beating well, then half of the milk. Blend in rest of the powdered sugar then enough milk to make it spreading consistency.


Carol Michel said...

What? No picture of the cake? I'm sure it was delicious!

bhelenj said...

Where's the picture? It was a cute dinosaur. Even your brother knew what it was.

Robbie said...

I'd love to but my *^&% computer is suddenly not recognizing my card drive. As if losing the CD burner last month wasn't enough!

Yes mom, that means no photos of the kids for now!

Lisa said...

Homemade cake is so much better! And can be super easy. I have a recipe I use for a just a very basic chocolate cake that takes just a few minutes and you mix it in the pan so just a few dishes.

It's another one of those things that you think would be hard to do from scratch then you do it and see it's pretty darn easy. :)

nintendo ds said...

Cool recipe! Very nice and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely trying it soon.