Do you remember the smell of cookies baking on weekends when you were a kid? Do you remember how excited you would get at the thought of your mom baking your favorite cake for your birthday? Or how comforting it was to have someone make you a pie when it felt like the whole world sucked?
Although my mother is good at many things, she is no baker and growing up I saw more fudge stripe cookies than any sort of home baked goods. I started cooking at a young age but never really baked. When I was in law school, I tried my hands at baking cookies a few times to disastrous results. I was sure that my mom had killed any baking gene there might have been in our family and resigned myself to raising my children on Keebler products.
But everyday when I check my facebook I see photo after photo of people's success and I think if they can make a cake, why can't I?
Although I fully plan to be a tiger mother I realize that with thousands of how to videos available on the internet, there is no reason I can't become a master baker by the time my children have to start taking birthday cupcakes to class and effectively prevent my future children from blogging about how I never baked them a cake.
Last week I made these apple cupcakes/muffins which turned out ok (By ok I mean I only ate six of them on Sunday) but this week I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to correct some of the mistakes I made in last weeks baking adventure. I decided on carrot cake because it is my fave and also because we had a bag of organic carrots that had been sitting in the fridge for about three weeks. (They hadn't gone bad. I swear.)
I used the recipe in America's Test Kitchen cookbook. It is easy to follow and called for lots of gentleness. Gently mix the flour and spices, gently fold in the carrots, gently fluff the frosting. By the end, I thought my cake needed a therapist more than an oven.
Although the recipe didn't call for nuts, I remembered that every mile high carrot cake I had ever eaten included nuts and I remembered that they had been on the side of the cake so I decide to add that in. To figure out how to do it, I googled "how to stick nuts on the side of a cake." That led me to this website and although the name baking911 really spoke to me, all the pink, red and schizophrenic fonts was too much for me and I quickly hit the back button. The next website had too many words but as I scrolled down I saw this picture which was all I needed. Falling the smack the thing you want on the side of your cake method, I was able to get the result I wanted.
For the final making my cake look like a real cake touch I used my recently purchased pastry bag to make a squiggly thing around my cake. To learn how to do this, I googled "how to make a squiggly thing around a cake." I ran into a website that was called "Directions for Decorating a Tinkerbell Birthday Cake." I decided to wing it. Making the squiggly thing was actually really easy and I did it in about 12 seconds. I think if I had taken 30 seconds, it would have looked better but all I could think of was how badly I wanted to eat my cake so I didn't spend enough time smoothing the frosting, nicely putting on the nuts or making an even squiggly line. That did not take away from how awesome the cake tasted so I win(ning).
The best thing about making the cake at home was that I was able to use all organic ingredients and was able to use the "light" recipe which cut out half the fat and calories. It still tasted amazing as is evidenced by how much we have already eaten.
The moral of this post? With google, all things are possible.