Strawberry Ice Cream and My Favorite Cake

Last week I gave you a teaser about strawberry ice cream, when I had leftover strawberry puree and eggs yolks from the strawberry cupcake recipe. Here I am, delivering on that promise!  As an extra bonus, you get my favorite recipe for the best pound cake you've ever tasted.  It's my favorite cake because I always have almost all of the ingredients, it's consistently delicious, and it's so quick and easy!  Literally...I have memorized the recipe, and could probably make it with my eyes closed!

What I'm not delivering on: photos!  I made the ice cream Friday night after work, quickly before Jeff and I went out for dinner and frozen custard.  Then I finished it in the ice cream maker Saturday morning quickly before we dashed out to Madame Tussaud's.  Then on the way back, I decided to make the pound cake to bring with the ice cream to our friends' house that night, so I dashed to the store for heavy cream and then quickly home to throw it together before we were supposed to get over there (it takes 1 hr and 15 min to bake!).  So there was a lot of dashing, and going quickly, and it didn't even dawn on me to take photos, or that I would even blog about it!

That was until we tasted them.  Ooh my goodness.  The pound cake?  Divine.  Literally still hot from the oven, I brought it to our friends' house still wearing oven mitts!  It smells like a gigantic sugar cookie, and tastes like sugar cookie cake, if there were such a thing.  Combine it with the fresh, creamy, strawberry-licious ice cream?  It was like summer on a plate!!

The cake recipe comes from one of my favorite authors, Dorothea Benton Frank, and her book Shem Creek.  All of her books are set in Charleston, SC, and make you completely want to pick up and move to the South.  The recipe is perfect, and I can tell you that I will never (NEVER) look for another recipe!'s perfect. 

So since I have no photos for you, how about I just give you the recipes, so you can go make these as soon as possible?

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
by Emeril Lagasse, from Food Network

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and quartered*
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split in half and scraped*
  • 6 egg yolks

In a food processor or blender, combine the strawberries and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Process until smooth. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the half-and-half and sugar. Bring to a simmer. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the yolk mixture to the saucepan of liquid and whisk until incorporated. Bring the liquid back to simmer and continue to cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberries. Whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture. This will prevent a skin from forming while cooling. Cool the mixture completely. Process the mixture according the ice cream machines instructions.

*As I mentioned, I used the leftover strawberry puree from the cupcakes I made for Valentine's Day, so I was unable to measure our strawberries in this way for the puree in the recipe.  I had about a pint glass full of puree, just stirred the sugar in (didn't blend it again), and it tasted great.  I also just used vanilla extract (about a teaspoon or two, I just eyeballed it), and added it after the strawberries while it was off the heat.

Vanilla Pound Cake
from Dorothea Benton Frank's novel, Shem Creek

  • 3 cups plain flour - not self-rising
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Generously grease and lightly flour a tube pan. Sift flour three times.
Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat only until each disappears. Blend in 1 cup flour followed by 1/2 cup whipping cream. Repeat with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Add remaining flour. Fold in vanilla.
Add batter to pan, level it and drip it flat on the counter to knock out the air bubbles. Place in center of the oven and bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, or until it's browned on top and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (important!). Remove from oven. Wait ten minutes and invert on a cake plate. Do not cover until cool to touch.

As a bonus, here are some fun photos from our trip to Madame Tussaud's.  Hope you get the day off tomorrow like we do!!

 On the Delaware with Washington
 I am not a crook!
 Can you smell what the Rock is cookin?!
 J. Lo's booty's got nothin on mine!
Jeff takes a Tyson-sized bite out of Holyfield 

Be Mine?

I've been dreaming about these cupcakes for a couple weeks now.  I saw this recipe for strawberry cake a couple weeks ago, and the gears started turning.  Here was my train of thought...

Strawberry cake--> pink--> Valentine's Day!--> hearts! --> chocolates!--> OH MY GOD. CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES!

So before I knew it was writing on Facebook to my friend Leah, who own's my fave kitchen store, Hill's Kitchen, asking for heart-shaped cupcake molds.  I got the last set in the store!  I ordered another set from Amazon, and then started talking about these hypothetical cupcakes to all of my coworkers.  So tonight was the night.  Tomorrow's the big day for all you lovaaahs out there!  Maybe make your valentine some sweet cupcakes to show your love!

There are some great things and not-as-great things about this cake.  Not so great? Waiting for strawberries to thaw, separating egg whites, making strawberry puree.  Great? Leftover strawberry puree, juice, egg yolks...can someone say ice cream?!  I'm really hoping to find a good recipe in the next couple days.  Anyway!  Cupcakes!

I'll warn you now, this batter is SO good.  I walked into our living room, where Jeff was watching TV, holding the bowl of batter and said, "Okay. I know I'm pregnant. I know this has raw egg whites in this, so I shouldn't eat it. But I did. And oh. my. gawd.  It's SO good!!!"  It tastes kind of like strawberry ice cream!  Delish!  When you get caught in the kitchen with your finger in the bowl, don't say I didn't warn you!

The original recipe, below, featured a champagne buttercream (wow!) but I thought it would be so delicious to just dip these in chocolate ganache, like a chocolate-covered strawberry.  Plus, they are perfect for the heart-shaped molds!  These cakes would be so excellent with any type of frosting, though.  I think it might be my new favorite recipe!  Dee-lish!

Adapted to cupcakes from Cook Like a Champion

Makes about 24 cupcakes

For the strawberry purée:
  • 24 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed

 For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup strawberry purée, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened

To make the strawberry purée, pour thawed strawberries into a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl to remove any liquid. Save liquid for a later use or discard. Purée strawberries in a blender or food processor and set aside 3/4 cup for the cake. The remaining 1/2 cup can be used to fill the cake, top ice cream, make daiquiris or almost anything else you can think of.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350º. Prepare a cupcake pan, either with paper liners, cooking spray, or use silicone molds like mine on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together strawberry purée, milk, egg whites and vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed. Add butter and continue mixing until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the purée mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Divide the batter evenly among the pans (a kitchen scale works wonders here) and smooth tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake cakes for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in molds for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Ganache:
•4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I just used chips, unchopped. Mini chips would be even better)
•1/2 C heavy cream
•2 Tbsp light corn syrup

To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Combine the cream and the corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the chocolate right away, and stir slowly until all of the chocolate melts and the ganache is silky and shiny. (It takes a while! Be patient and keep stirring, it will get there!).

Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache, tapping gently to remove the excess. Return the cupcakes to the wire rack to let the glaze set up, at least 30 minutes.

The cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refridgerator for up to 3 days.

The finished product got the hubby seal of approval, so you KNOW they're good!

 And just for kicks, here's a pic of me and my valentine from the Capitals game on Saturday (in our new jerseys!).  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Buns in Ovens

Are you excited? Have I piqued your interest?  Hmm...that's cool.  Now let's talk cinnamon rolls.  That is definitely one good type of bun that comes out of an oven.  Hot, gooey with frosting, everyone loves a cinnamon roll!  Would I make them again?  I'm not sure.  Here's why...

I've had this Smitten Kitchen recipe for Cinnamon Rolls for so long.  Seriously.  Probably something like a year.  But MAN is it time intensive!  It's what really turns me off about breads and buns...all that rising time!  Truth be told, I love (LOVE!) those cinnamon rolls in a can, with the little pot of icing at the bottom.  It's Christmas tradition in our family to make those every year, and I have to hold myself back from eating 5!  Why bother with something that takes HOURS to make?!  So you may be asking, where did these go wrong?

They didn't!

I did everything correctly.  I started my dough on Saturday morning, refridgerated it overnight, and brought it out to room temp (err...kind was room temp enough...kind of...) Sunday morning before our friends in from out of town woke up.  The dough rolled out beautifully.  My new bread knife from my in-laws for Christmas was AMAZING.  Sliced through the dough like a hot knife through butter.  There's my big tip for the whole process: use a sharp knife to cut your dough into rolls.

They cooked up nicely, didn't burn, and everything worked out exactly how it should have.  My husband loved them.  Our friends loved them.  Why didn't I love them?  Well that would be the second bun in the oven I'm referring to...

This little stinker doesn't seem to like Mommy to eat very much lately!  Yep...I'm pregnant!  That tiny little speck in there is a 7 week old bun (who is actually about 9 weeks now).  Our sweet little Bun (yes...we call it "The Bun") is due in September, and we couldn't be happier!!  It's definitely been an interesting month since I've found out, and morning sickness currently has had me in it's death grip until the recent acquisition of a little miracle drug called "Zofran."  I managed one bite of roll, and had to put it down.  Tragedy of tragedies!!  Who puts down a perfectly good cinnamon roll?!  The answer is me.

So from what I gather, these rolls were delicious.  It's up to you to be the judge now!  Also, check out Smitten Kitchen's post for these rolls.  She announced her pregnancy through these rolls, too!  I figured if it worked for her, it works for me!

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from
Molly Wizenberg’s recipe in Bon Appetit, March 2008
Makes 18 buns. Note I did not say “servings”. That’s between you and your buns.
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (You may also use a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process.) Form into ball.
Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.
Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven (we baked them in a ramekin, incapable of discarding such deliciousness) cut remaining dough crosswise with thin sharp knife (a good serrated worked well here) into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes (an 8-inch square metal pan worked just fine, too) with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes, though yours, like mine, may take longer. Don’t skimp on the double-rising time.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: These buns were best the day they were baked. The second day, they were on the tough side. If you anticipate wanting them over a few days, glaze them to order, heating the buns beforehand to soften them up.

Okay, me again.  My other tip would be to roll the dough relatively tight.  I noticed that a couple of my rolls had a decent amount of filling fall out after slicing them.  I think the easy solution would be to roll the log tighter, and it shouldn't be a problem.  So now you have it.  Sharp knife, roll the dough tight.  Now go make some buns (cinnamon or babies...whichever you prefer!)!
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