Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Friday, November 12, 2010

birthday cake for karen

for my birthday this year, i decided to bake myself a cake.  usually i select a birthday cake from a pastry shop which specializes in french bakery items.  and, i certainly love the buttercream frosting for my special day.

but this year was different, and i decided to make a single layer cake and decorate the cake with a chocolate ganache that i make frequently for a variety of desserts.  and then, decorate the cake with a vanilla buttercream icing.

since i am not really a baker or cake decorator, i decided to use a very simple initial design.  i am quite proud of how the initial looks on the cake and i think for future events, i will expand on this idea and continue to use monograms of different styles.  i may have to investigate how to form monograms, so this information will certainly be coming to the blog soon.

the ganache recipe is quite simple:  6-8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, a very good brand, melted over a stainless double boiler.  when the chocolate is melted completely, i simply add 1/2 cup of whipping cream slowly stirring to incorporate.  this ganache icing comes together very quickly and looks glossy and delicious from the start. 1 tablespoon of flavor is then added for taste.  sometimes i use orange or lemon, and today i used almond. then, i simply pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread to the edges and sides with a flat thin spatula.  the icing will harden in a matter of an hour or so, with about 4-5 tablespoons left over for a one layer cake.  this recipe might be enough for a two layer cake.  it certainly would be enough if extra buttercream icing was going to be used for the base of the cake and additional decorating to possibly hide thinner ganache at the edges.

the buttercream recipe has been posted on the blog under maple icing, however for this cake, i used Watkins vanilla for the flavoring. this is my standard icing recipe and the flavors change based on what is desired for the cake. this makes life simple.  : )  Watkins vanilla is so tasty and i have tried several different brands over the years.  another great brand is Nielsen-Massey vanillas.  i have also used their vanilla beans, sliced them and scraped them into the icing for a great result as well.

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