New Beginnings

This has been a semester of change… weird change.

Friends have graduated, new friends have appeared, and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself in ways both good and bad. One of the things that is very real for me right now is that one of my friends is going abroad next semester, which means I won’t see him… ever… (or at least for a while) unless I’m in Boston for work next year. (Fingers crossed!) It’s sad to think that immediate contact with someone can be cut off so quickly. And even in the age of Skype, Facebook, and ceaseless texts, it’s hard to keep in touch.

We threw him a little surprise sending-off party tonight, just to show him that we love him and are wishing him the best. I made a cake, of course. It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, so here’s one of my all-time-favorites: chocolate cake.

I made it because it’s his favorite, heh. The first time I made it for a group of friends, I think he ate like 3 or 4 pieces. Yup.

I could rave about this friend forever, but I think if he ended up reading this, it’d be disappointing because I couldn’t say enough in a short post. And it also might be embarrassing, but… meh, oh well. <3 <3 <3 I just know I’m going to miss him next semester.

OKAYY away from the mushy-gushy friendship stuff. Now, about this cake…

It’s a huge crowd pleaser. Seriously, everybody raves about this cake. I was lucky that I stumbled upon the recipe a long time ago and kept it! I whip this cake out when I haven’t had time to prepare anything too fancy, but it has never failed me.

The thing that makes this cake so good is the fact that it has a cup of boiling water in it to make it super moist, yet flavorful with that melt-in-your-mouth feeling. I’ve topped it before with store-bought chocolate frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Anything will do, really, because the cake can speak for itself.

I also love this recipe because it only takes ~45 minutes from start to finish, with only 35 minutes in the oven! So quick, so easy, so delicious. Seriously: try it, and tell me it’s not delicious. I dare you.

The only people who don’t like this cake are people who don’t like chocolate. Whatever, more for the rest of us.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 pan or two nine-inch cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. EAT AND ENJOY

nom nom nom <3

Also–working on remodeling the blog a bit so it’s more functional and user-friendly.. but I first have to finish finals, and then figure out how to WordPress. SRSLY what is going on with all the buttons? (Help.) Anyways, I’m hoping to have more photography stuff on here, as well as a recipe index so it’s easier to find the recipes I’ve posted before. Hope it’ll be easier for you and me!

Here’s to friends and love and forever,

syd

Advertisements

Recovery

Hullo!

Updates:

1. 1st semester is done!!!

2. Vacationed for the weekend in Maui!

3. And to celebrate the 4th, I got to do two things I haven’t had the time to enjoy lately: photography and baking!

I’m no photographer by any means, and I’m definitely envious of my cousin’s photography skills with his fancy new(ish) Canon T3i while I have my (still fancy) Canon Rebel XT… that I don’t know how to use. Hmmm. Well, that could be a problem.

For the Fourth, I was charged with supplying dessert when we went to our auntie’s house to watch the fireworks after a yummy dinner. We thought that we’d only have a party of like, 7 or 8, but SURPRISE there were a few other families invited! There ended up being two potato salads, two salads, two watermelons, and a whole lot of desserts. Oops. Bad communication. 

Regardless, it was enjoyable and relaxing, especially for me, since I’ve been “studying” for the past… well, 6 weeks! Baking is most definitely one of my therapies, so it was no trouble for me to take a break from the books and concoct something hopefully delicious. 

In the spirit of Fourth of July, I decided to do something a little patriotic and very classic. Ta da!

Image

Sorry for the bad picture. As I said, I don’t know how to use my camera yet…

Anyways, this is Patriotic Red Velvet Cake! Mmm. Everybody loves red velvet, right? Surely a crowd-pleaser. 

I’m usually more inclined to make cupcakes, since they’re more fun to decorate, but since I haven’t made a cake in a while… well, why not?

Before I get to the recipe, explanation of my updates: first semester of summer school is done and luckily I did not too shabby overall! Today I started second semester, nervous because of the new (and allegedly more difficult) professor and content, but ready to go after a weekend in Maui with relatives and their friends! We got to snorkel in the most beautiful waters I’ve ever seen and see the sunset ABOVE THE CLOUDS from a peak overlooking the surrounding island and waters. 

ImageImage

 

We got to eat good food, see amazing sights, and, best of all, simply hang out with some wonderful people. I know that I came off antisocial and isolated, which was obviously my mistake and something I regret so so much, but it was definitely the break I needed. I think I ended up getting out of my silent groove after a day or so, anyhow. #introvertproblems

And now that school has restarted, I find myself reminiscing on the good times had last week… especially the Star-Spangled (ish) cake! I don’t think this needs an introduction, so without further ado…

Image

Red Velvet “Open Layer” Cake

For the cake

  •  2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1-2 tsp
  • 2 oz red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

 For the cream cheese frosting

*Note: This batch produced enough for a thin layer in the middle of the cake layers and  enough to cover the top layer. If you really like cream cheese frosting on your red velvet cake, you might want to multiply this recipe by 1.5.

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Grease two 9-inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.

 2. Combine the buttermilk, salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the oil and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. (This will look kind of slushy, but it should be well-mixed.) Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing until just incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar then gently fold into the cake batter.

3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. While waiting for the cake to bake, in a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Spoon half into another bowl and mix in as much blue food coloring as desired. (I added ~10 drops.) 

5. Once cakes are cool, transfer bottom layer onto serving platter. Spread either blue or white frosting on top, but not too close to the edges, as it will spread out when the top layer is added. Place second cake layer on top of middle frosting. Use other frosting to cover top. Garnish cake with blueberries, sprinkles, or other decorations. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. 

Happy belated 4th of July! What did you make?

Happy Chinese New Year!

Bring out all that Chinese food, because it’s time to celebrate! Woo!

Unfortunately, I don’t get all of my mom’s amazing Chinese cooking while here at school, but I’m sure I’ll celebrate in full force next week when we can go places… Because right now, Blizzard Nemo decided to lock us in! I’m not complaining, though–a snow day and a lot of fluffy powder to play in is fine by me!

Image
Over two feet of snow on the ground? Let’s play!

A day off gives me more time to do my work, and of course more time to have some fun! While other people were being studious, though, I decided to let loose and celebrate Chinese New Year by making some 年糕, which is Chinese New Year cake! For those who haven’t had it before, it has the consistency of mochi, and although it’s served unfried, you’re supposed to dip it in egg (though that’s optional) and pan-fry it! Mmmm :)

I haven’t had 年糕 in a really really really long time, partially because I wasn’t sure if I liked it. When I was little I didn’t, so I avoided it at all costs, but now my taste buds have woken up and are very happy! 

I thought 年糕 would be much harder to make, but it’s so simple! Just a few ingredients, an hour, and you’re golden. I found this recipe while browsing online. Instead of steaming it in a wok, my roommate and I decided to be creative and use our rice cooker! Handy, right? 

Later that night, we fried it and enjoyed it to our heart’s content! We still had some leftover (even though I only made half a batch!) so we gave it to some of our Chinese friends who know what good 年糕 is. I was so surprised and flattered when they RAVED over it! Looks like I’ll have to make this again!

Well, without further ado, here’s 年糕 for you! Enjoy!

Image
Golden and delicious, right out of the rice cooker!

Chinese New Year Cake (年糕)

Yields one 9″ pie plate. (The picture shown above is half the recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 hot water, plus 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Grease a 9″ pie pan and prepare a wok or pot for steaming. 
  2. Whisk brown sugar and water in a large bowl, adding water 3/4 cup at a time, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Mix in glutinous rice flour until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Pour the batter into the pie pan. Steam in high heat for 1 hour or less, or until the cake has a sticky but firm consistency. Remove from steamer and let cool completely on a plate. You may eat after cooling or store in an air-tight container or wrapped in cling wrap for a few days.
  5. Optional: when ready to eat, cut into pieces and dip pieces in raw egg. Pan fry until outsides are dark and crispy. 

Let me know how yours turns out!