Ice Cream Cake

ice cream cake

Over the last four or five years, the Universe has developed a habit of taking the snow globe that is my life and shaking the hell out of it during the month of July.  For reasons that are beyond me, the Universe prefers to unleash a world of change on me in the dead of summer.  This year the change left me profoundly sad as I said goodbye to my companion of ten years.

Shadow came into my life during The Mistah’s first deployment.  He’d had one owner for eight years, and like me, suddenly found his world turned upside down.  We bonded quite quickly and his energy filled the empty space in the apartment.  He gave me predictable and dependable when everything else around me was anything but.

He eventually accepted The Mistah, but Shadow was my cat and I was his person.  Back when he could still jump up on the bed, he would often wedge his considerable self between the wall and my head during the night.  It was not unusual for me to wake up in the morning with cat head.  One of us clearly enjoyed this more than the other.

Most of the time he wanted to be near you but not in your lap.  So he would reach out and gently lay a paw on your arm or leg or shoulder, just to say “here I am”.  He had a weakness for deli meat and would double time it to the kitchen at the first crinkle of lunchmeat coming out of the bag.  And even as the years made it more and more difficult for him to walk, he would still climb the stairs when he heard the shower running so that he could get into the tub for a drink after the water had been turned off.  I cleaned as much cat hair out of our tub as I did human hair.

He was so old by the time Libby came along that she never had a chance to win him over.  And she so desperately wanted to be his friend.  Her first word was cat.  She learned to crawl because she didn’t want Shadow to get away from her.  Her first chore in the house was putting a scoop of food in his dish each morning.  Even though he was an unwilling participant, so many of her “firsts” had something to do with that cat.

His decline was sudden and swift.  In the three days between making the appointment with the vet and the day of the appointment, I knew that our time together was coming to an end.  So I made him a little bed to go next to his food and water….which he totally ignored.  And I spent extra time giving him quiet scratches and brushing his long, silky coat…which he totally loved.

Then on his last morning, I wrapped him in a towel and gave him an hour outside with the sun on his back and a gentle breeze in his face. I cried.  I stroked his fur.  I cried some more.  I thanked him for being such a wonderful part of our family and promised him that I would stay with him to the very end.

And I did.  I held him as the vet gave him the first shot.  We sat quietly, tears blurring my eyes, and he buried his head in the crook of my arm just as he had done so many times before.  He trusted me completely and I felt like I was betraying that trust as the vet administered the second shot.  Just like that, he was gone.

Taking away the food and water dishes, their empty space on the floor looked out of place.  And I cried.  Sweeping up the last bits of his fur from the floor felt like I was erasing him from the house.  And I cried some more. Now, coming into a room and expecting to see him is met with disappointment.  Watching Libby look under the table and ask “where’s Shadow” is like getting punched in the stomach.

But time doesn’t stop because we are sad.  And two days after I said goodbye to Shadow I celebrated Libby’s 3rd birthday.  My sadness and my joy stood side by side, took my hand, and together we got through it.  After the presents had been opened and the last of the guests had left and Libby was finally in bed, all was quiet.

In that silence, I could feel the absence of what had been and gratitude for all that it was.

Ice Cream Cake

BAH Note:  This is the cake I made for Libby’s 3rd birthday.  I won’t say that I wasn’t thinking about Shadow as I worked but it’s really hard to be sad when butter, chocolate, and ice cream are around.  You can use whatever cake you like. I won’t even blink an eye if that happens to be a box of cake mix.

    • Chocolate cake (see below)
    • 8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, such as Brownie Batter Thins (if using Oreo, remove the vanilla filling)
    • 1/2 gallon ice cream, store bought or homemade, slightly thawed

Prepare a 9 inch cake pan by laying several layers of plastic wrap across each other, pressing them down into the pan, with the ends hanging well over the edge like a sling.

Use a food processor to blitz the half the wafer cookies into crumbs.  Add half of the cake in large chunks and continue to process until the cake is also turned into crumbs.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and repeat the process with the rest of the cookies and cake.

Using a large spoon or spatula, give the cake and cookie crumbs a good stir and then transfer about 1/3 of the crumbs to the cake pan.  Use something with a flat bottom (water glass, ramekin, smaller cake pan, etc) to press the crumbs into a single layer in the pan.  Repeat the process, using anywhere from 2/3 to of all the crumbs.

Scoop approximately 1/3 of the ice cream into the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low just until it starts to smooth out, stopping to scrape the ice cream from the paddle as necessary.  Repeat until all the ice cream is in the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the ice cream is a spreadable, soft serve consistency.

Top the cake crumbs with the ice cream and use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the ice cream into an even layer.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and transfer to the freezer (a few hours or overnight) for the ice cream to set.

When ready to serve, remove the pan from the freezer and uncover the top.  Grab the ends of the plastic wrap hanging over the cake pan like a sling and use them to pull the cake out of the pan.  Transfer the cake to a large serving plate, removing the plastic wrap from the bottom, and allow to thaw slightly before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Butter Cake
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum

BAH Note: Knowing that I was going to turn the cake into crumbs, I baked all the batter in a single 9” cake pan…because why prep and dirty two pans when all I need is one.  I had a moment of doubt as the cake batter creeped closer and closer to the edge of the pan and then flirted with panic as my baking time hit 40 and then 45 minutes.  I’m pleased to say it turned out ok in the end.

  • 2 1/4 ounces (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) boiling water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 1/4 ounces (1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) cake flour
  • 10 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened

Combine the boiling water and cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.  Allow the cocoa mixture to cool.

Once the cocoa mixture is cool, heat your oven to 350 degrees, line one (or two) 9 inch cake pan with parchment, and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl of a mixer and mix on low briefly to combine.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and stir in ¼ of the cocoa mixture plus the vanilla.

Add the remaining cocoa mixture plus the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.  Increase the speed to medium and mix approximately 2 minutes or until the batter gets smooth and lighter in color.

Add 1/3 of the egg mixture, beat until just combined, and scrape down the bowl.  Repeat two more times until all of the egg mixture is mixed in.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake on the center rack until the edges start to pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  If you divided the batter between two pans, baking time is approximately 25 to 35 minutes.  If you baked all the batter in a single pan, start checking at 35 minutes but be prepared to bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out to cool completely on a wire rack.

{printable recipe}

Advantium Rolls

not my actual roll...for illustrative purposes only.

You may recall that I spent Christmas 2010 with Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Bread Bible recipes for dutch baby and dinner rolls.  Both recipes were so successful and made the day feel like a holiday should that I decided that Rose should be part of Christmas 2011.  Specifically, I wanted to make a batch of cloverleaf dinner rolls so that I could give the Proof setting on the Advantium a whirl.

I was hoping for a Christmas miracle to be honest.  My luck with getting bread dough to rise is spotty.  I follow directions, I use water that is neither too hot nor too cold, I use high quality yeast, and I try my best to surrender my fears to the bread gods.  Maybe our house is a bit on the chilly side.  Or maybe I have evil spirits in the air taking all the mojo out of the yeast.  Or maybe I just needed the Advantium to banish those evil spirits and unleash my bread baking super power.

The first rise of the dough was glorious.  When I took it out of the Advantium, it had grown as though any other outcome was simply inconceivable.  I deflated the dough, gave it a turn or two, and set it back in the Advantium on Proof for the second rise expecting that my good fortune with the first rise must have been a fluke.

Not so.  The second rise was as perfectly executed as the first.  I then portioned the dough, rolled each portion into balls, and set three dough balls into each cup of a muffin tin.  While the big oven heated, the dough went back into the Advantium for the final rise.

Once the dough had achieved about 3/4 of the final rise, my impatience got the best of me.  I brushed melted butter on the top of the rolls, gave them a generous dusting of kosher salt, and set them in the oven to fulfill their cloverleaf destiny.  If I had a been just a bit more patient on the final rise, my rolls would have achieved maximum lift when they hit the intense heat of the oven.  But I wasn’t.  And they didn’t.  And in spite of that, they still emerged golden brown and I eagerly pulled one apart to enjoy its salted, buttery deliciousness.

Is there anything better than bread, still warm from the oven?  The correct answer is no.

The rolls that we didn’t eat with Christmas dinner were carefully wrapped in plastic and stashed in the freezer.  I think they lasted all of two weeks before we had picked the last one off.  Which means that I am long overdue to set a bowl of flour, yeast, and water in my Advantium and harness the super power of the Proof setting.

Want the recipe that I used?  Click here to jump back in time.  The only thing I did differently this year, besides proofing the dough in the Advantium, was letting the starter develop in the refrigerator overnight.  Yes, it added even more time to an already lengthy recipe but it wasn’t like I was doing any more work.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Rose’s Butter Dipped Dinner Rolls

I hope you don’t mind the fact that it’s April and I’m just now talking about what I was cooking on Christmas day.  Wendi time works on its own schedule.  I feel as though I spent Christmas day with Rose Levy Beranbaum. Oh my, what a wonderful thing that would be.

Not only did we have her apple filled dutch baby for Christmas breakfast, we had her butter dipped dinner rolls at dinner.  Christmas was filled with all kinds of Bread Bible Studies.  And it was a complete success.

Rose’s Butter Dipped Dinner Rolls

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbum’s The Bread Bible

BAH Note:  This is not a quick recipe. But if you plan accordingly, the end result will be worth the wait.  I never imagined I would say that about a dinner roll that came out of my oven.  But I did and I stand by it.  I may sound like a broken record here but again, I don’t know if my flour was bleached or unbleached and my results were spectacular.  If you have the space to store both bleached and unbleached all purpose flour, please don’t tell me because I will develop a raging case of storage envy.

Starter

  • 170 grams (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 22 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) water between 70 and 90 degrees
  • 22 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon) honey
  • .8 grams (1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast

Combine all the ingredients in the work bowl of a stand mixer and whisk by hand for 2 minutes until very smooth and the consistency of a thick batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Dough

  • 156 grams (1 cup plus 4 1/2 teaspoons) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 20 grams (2 tablespoons) nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1.6 grams (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 64 grams (4 1/2 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 7.5 grams (1 1/8 teaspoons) salt
  • 56 grams (4 tablespoons) butter, melted

Once you have made the starter, begin working on the rest of the dough.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, milk powder, and yeast.  Sprinkle this on top of the starter, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to sit for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature during which time the sponge may bubble through the flour in places.

Add the butter to your mixture and mix on low speed for 1 minute with the dough hook until the flour is moist enough to form a rough dough.  Scrape down any bits on the side of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rest the dough for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt onto the dough and knead on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes until it comes away from the sides of the bowl, is smooth and elastic, and sticks to your fingers.  Use an oiled spatula and scrape down any bits on the side of the bowl.

Quickly turn the dough out of the mixing bowl and coat the bowl with cooking spray.  Return the dough to the bowl, gently push it down, and spray the surface with cooking spray.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1 /2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Use an oiled spatula or bench scraper to turn the dough out onto a floured counter.  Gently press it into a rectangle.  Fold the top third of the dough down and the bottom third of the dough up as though you were folding a letter.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat.  Return the dough to the bowl and spray the surface lightly again.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

To form the rolls, gently roll the dough into a long log and cut into 18 pieces, each piece approximately 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons.  Roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush the melted butter onto the rolls, cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray, and allow the rolls to rise for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.

During this final rise, place an oven rack with a baking stone on it at the lowest level and place a sheet pan or cast iron skillet on the oven floor and heat the oven to 400 degrees.  When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and set the sheet pan on the baking stone.  Quickly add 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan on the oven floor.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush with any remaining melted butter.

{printable recipe}

Rose’s Dutch Baby

Since I mentioned my recent Bread Bible Studies, it’s probably a good time to show you what I was able to do with Miss Rose’s help.  But I’m going to keep my oohing and aahing to a minimum because it’s one long ass recipe.

To summarize, I chose Christmas morning to resume my Bread Bible Studies.  All I can say is that this apple filled dutch baby was a Christmas miracle.  And it was just as good as a cold snack late on Christmas night as it was piping hot for breakfast that morning.

Rose’s Apple Filled Dutch Baby

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbum’s The Bread Bible

BAH Note: The most important thing about this recipe is to remember that the batter has to rest for at least an hour.  If you don’t like long delays in getting apple filled goodness into your belly, make the batter the night before.  I honestly don’t know if the flour in my container was bleached or unbleached.  I’m sure RLB has her reasons for specifying bleached but I was perfectly happy with the results I got with my King Arthur All Purpose.

RLB’s headnote for this recipe says her “goal was for a Dutch baby that had crisp, puffy sides but a tender, almost custardy bottom (as opposed to an eggy/rubbery one).”  I can not provide a more accurate, enticing description than that.

Batter

  • 142 grams (1 cup) bleached all purpose flour
  • 37 grams (3 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1.7 grams (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 56 grams (4 tablespoons) melted butter, divided
  • 242 grams (1 cup) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and process until the mixture resembles tiny peas, approximately 20 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the workbowl.  With the food processor running, add the milk, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla and process until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds.

Allow the batter to sit for an hour at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If you refrigerate overnight, allow the batter to come to room temperature and whisk it lightly.

30 minutes before baking, place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat your oven to 400 degrees.  When ready to bake, remelt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add it to a 12 inch, oven safe frying pan (I used a stainless steel pan because I don’t know that my Calphalon nonstick is safe to 400 degrees).  Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides completely with the butter.  Place the empty pan in the oven for 3 minutes until the butter is hot and bubbling.

Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and pour the batter over the hot butter.  Bake for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue to cook until it is puffed around the edges above the sides of the pan and has a golden brown color, approximately 30 minutes.  Approximately 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, quickly make 3 small slits in the center of the Dutch baby to release steam and allow the center to dry more.

While the Dutch baby is in the oven, make the apple filling.

Apple Filling

  • 63 grams (4 1/2 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 717 grams (2 pounds) granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 thick
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 40 grams (3 tablespoons) brown sugar
  • 38 grams (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a large frying pan set over medium heat.  When the bubbling subsides, add all the ingredients.  Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the apples are tender and glazed.  Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep warm.

Once the Dutch baby is removed from the oven, carefully transfer it to a large plate or platter and fill it with the spiced apples.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Would You Believe?

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/16/08 at Exit 51

Would You Believe?

Rose Levy Beranbaum talked to me?   Well she did. And I can prove it.

Ok, so it’s not like we had a leisurely chat over coffee or anything. She was on today’s Free Range on Food chat hosted by the Washington Post. Seeing as how I had drooled all over myself reading her pie recipes, this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up to ask a few questions.

So I did.  And she answered ‘em.  Check it out: Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Would You Believe?”

Flashback Friday – Did Someone Say Pie?

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/16/08 at Exit 51

Did Someone Say Pie?

It’s almost lunch time and I foolishly checked out the Washington Post Food Section.  Give me a moment while I clean up the slobber that is smeared all over my monitor.

Now, I can’t vouch for these recipes but when you’ve got Rose Levy Beranbaum and the Washington Post involved, I’m thinking the recipe is going to be pretty good.

Yes, this does mean that I will be taking home recipes for flaky cream cheese pie crust, cherry lattice pie, and perfect peach pie. Lord have mercy on me.