A blog about all the things we love, regardless of how uncool they are.

Birthday Cake: Vanilla Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

Posted: July 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments: Dork out with us! »


This weekend some friends of mine invited me to bake a cake with them for the birthday of another friend. And if you know me, you know I never pass up a chance to be domestic with the gals. Lindsay had this fantastic cupcake book, Cupcakes: Luscious Bakeshop Favorites from your Home Kitchen, by Shelly Kaldunski which has all kinds of great cupcake and frosting recipes, along with decorating tips.  We adapted the recipes for Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee-flavored Buttercream for our cakes. The decorations are turbinado sugar, dyed with food coloring, and coffee buttercream, with added hot cocoa powder and food coloring. We had so much fun, and the cake was delicious! This recipe comes directly from Kaldunski’s book, with the amounts doubled for the cakes.

Basic Vanilla Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Spray sides and bottom of one small and one large spring-form pan with non-stick baking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  And the eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating well on low speed after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the springform pans, until all batter is used. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, (20-25 minutes?).  Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about  1 hour.

While the cake is cooling, make the Coffee Buttercream:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan.  Usuing an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition.  If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more.  Add the coffee in small amounts until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Use right away.

A 6 year old birthday

Posted: July 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Crafts | Tags: , , , | Comments: 1 Other Dork »


My niece, Gloria turned six last weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there to celebrate with her (she lives in another state), but I was able to send her a gift. I got out my Zakka sewing book (which I finally gave in and bought–it didn’t take much) and made some cute journal covers for some blank books I bought at Muji last February when Jason and I visited New York. I sent her the journals, with the instructions: “Write your secrets in them, and hide them from you little brother!” That’s what a diary is for, right?


And…since Hannah Montana is all the rage these days, I couldn’t forget to include the soundtrack from her new movie, which I’ve never seen, but if you know 6-year-olds these days, you know that they go ga-ga over that Hannah Montana.


Debunking the “Bread-Making is Hard” myth

Posted: July 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Recipes | Comments: 4 Other Dorks »


For whatever reason, I always grew up under the impression that bread-making was really difficult. I think that most people that I’ve met have that same impression. I can’t tell you where the idea comes from, or what has caused it to persist through 28 years of my own life. However, I can tell you that this notion was only reinforced when my family bought a bread machine. Wow, it must be complicated if there is this expensive contraption who’s sole purpose is to bake a loaf of bread. I remember that even loading the machine up with the ingredients seemed pretty complex at the time and then it would perform some mysterious voodoo (usually overnight), resulting in a fresh, box-like loaf of bread. Sure, the bread that resulted was good – but the only thing that made it better than what we got at the store was that hour or so that it was still warm from baking. After than, it seemed to lose its magic. Needless to say, the bread machine didn’t really get used that often. Well, that’s about the time that I resigned myself from ever trying to bake bread again.

Fast-forward over a decade into the future and here I am, surfing the internet, when I come across this article and this video from the New York Times on a dead-simple no-knead bread recipe. Really? You don’t need to knead the bread endlessly until you fall over, pass out, and awaken only to find your dough has gone flat? I just mix together a few simple ingredients and basically let it sit until it’s ready to bake?!  Yea, right.

Now, this article has been across, and back, and across the internet again and again, so we know we’re not breaking any news here. We just want all of our family and friends (and the occasional random person) to know that BREAD BAKING IS NOT HARD and YOU SHOULD BE BAKING YOUR BREAD AT HOME! We’ve been baking this recipe for about a year now and it turns out great every time. Beautiful, crunchy outside, spongy inside, and just plain tasty. So, please, give it a try! And let us know what you think! If you’re not convinced, make sure you watch that video!

Check out this awesome recipe!