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Creating goals is an important element of a successful life. Goals drive you towards your passions and motivate you to embrace challenge, change, and perseverance. Beginning this blog has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember! See I was the kid who woke up early to watch Martha Stewart bake a cake, the one who entered a gazillion 4-H food projects, just so I could hear that my crust was perfect and that it tasted amazing, the one who scoured garage sales for any cookbook I could find and the one who dreamed of becoming a brilliant chef when I grew up. I studied French in high school, so I would be better adept at speaking French, but it seems the only word I came out of french class with was le beurre (butter). I stayed up late watching Jamie Oliver and Iron Chef, thinking maybe I could pick up one trick that would help me in my cooking endeavors.

But through life’s twisty turns, I became a COUNSELOR. Yes, it’s a scary word and it has nothing to do with cooking or does it? Cooking has always been my therapy, my place of hunger, and my craving in life. I think cooking is therapeutic in so many ways and I hope to share this with you through my cooking.

Let’s talk about goals baby. Goals need to be smart.

SPECIFIC
MEASURABLE
ACHIEVABLE
REALISTIC
TIME-BOUND

So I ask myself, is this lofty goal of mine SMART? I hope we can find out on this journey.

To start I want to share a recipe for a simple cake from one of my original idols: Martha Stewart. This cake is yummy and easy to make. The frosting is a sweet, gooey candy like frosting that is melt your mouth delicious. Cheers to goals and making those goals SMART!

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Vanilla Layer Cake with Easy Penuche Frosting

Cake adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2013

INGREDIENTS

{CAKE}
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans and parchment
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

{FROSTING}
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

GUIDANCE

For the cake preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

For the frosting, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set pan in cold water bath. When you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pan, the syrup is cool enough. Keep pan in iced water bath and beat in confectioner’s sugar until thick enough to spread. If frosting is too thin add more confectioner’s sugar. If too thick, add a few drops of hot water.

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