Monday, September 8, 2008

Duhnuhnuhnuhnuhnuhnuhnuh BATCAKE!

I promised a cake, and here we are. Thank you to the birthday girl for providing the pictures.

My friend loves Batman. Her birthday was last month, so I made her a Batman birthday cake. Yum.

I didn't get to take any pictures right when it was done, so please excuse the wax drip and candle holes. And general squashiness of the cake. As we all know, I can't make a birthday cake without some sort of drama:

I work next door to a box and paper store and not far from a cake supply shop but could not find a box the right size for a 9", two layer cake. So I used a box that was slightly too small with toothpicks taped into the corners to hold it up. It looked more like a shirt box than a cake box, but I figured it would do. Guess who was wrong!

The cake left my house in perfect condition, I swear. Halfway to the party, some guys on the train started talking to me and asked to see the cake (don't ask me how they knew it was a cake). I showed it to them and it was fine. The cake was still totally intact. Somewhere between Queens and Brooklyn, the toothpicks fell off and the lid fell in. When I got to the restaurant and took the top off the box to show the birthday girl's husband the cake, half the bat symbol came off on the inside of the top of the box. And some the ganache was stuck to the sides. The cake was ruined! It was so bad the staff couldn't even tell what it was supposed to be (the husband could, though). I stood there shaking and shitting my pants (well, dress) while the staff brought us some chocolate sauce. The husband was able to fill in the outline left by the original bat with the chocolate sauce* and still get the basic look I had been going for. I didn't do it myself because my hands were shaking and they said the chocolate was at about 100 degrees.

We brought in the cake, everyone loved it and no one seemed to notice anything was wrong with it until I told them the story.

The cake is a doubled recipe of the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Like the book suggests, I heated the soy milk and whisked in some tumeric, to get it really yellow (I was too lazy to do this for the Iron Man cake). I made this cake multiple times, because in my effort to get it good and yellow, I kept adding too much tumeric, and you could taste it. Blech.

I needed the cake nice and flat to get my stencil to sit on it, so I asked for suggestions on the PPK and got the idea to make my own cake rings:

They say cakes dome because the edges cook faster than the center. The slower cooking center puffs up, leaving the more done edges low. Cake rings are supposed to keep the edges from baking so quickly. I made mine by soaking some newspaper in cold water, wrapping it in tinfoil and taping it closed around my cake pans. I think the cakes were a bit straighter than usual, but it was hard to tell since one broke in half right out of the pan (I should have known that was an omen). Obviously, that was the bottom cake. I wonder if anyone noticed the break while they were cutting (if not, they'll know if they read this!).

I topped and filled the cake with the Fauxstess ganache from Vegan With a Vengeance because I think that one comes out closest to black. I printed the bat symbol out from the Internet, traced it onto cardboard and used that as a stencil for the icing.

Here's the cake with candles:

And the birthday girl blowing them out:

The birthday girl also loves Harry Potter. As a super nerdy bonus, this doubles as a Hufflepuff cake from the inside (assuming we keep pretending the ganache is actually black):

After this, the Iron Man cake, the Indiana Jones cake and the Yoda cupcakes, maybe I should change the name of this blog to Seitan Said Bake Dorky Things.

*Two days later, I realized I had no idea what was in that chocolate sauce and I just used it because I was desperate to save the cake. I doubt it was vegan, but such is life. It honestly didn't even occur to me at the time. I was the only vegan there, though, so with luck, my piece only had ganache on it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Brunchening 2.0

I know I said my next post would be about cake, but I don't have pictures yet, so you get brunch instead. Sorry!

I celebrated Labor Day with a brunch picnic in Prospect Park. Almost all recipes came from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's upcoming brunch book Crack of Noon. I cannot express how much love I have for most of the recipes that will be in this book. The sausages, waffles, scones and scrambles are some of the best food I've ever eaten.

I don't know how I managed to eat almost nothing but brunch for three months without a waffle maker. I didn't realize I had that much restraint, but my period of deprivation is over. To celebrate, I made Cornbread Waffles With Pantry Mole Rojo And Seitan and Buckwheat Waffles With Red Wine Tarragon Mushroom Gravy.

Cornbread Waffle with Pantry Mole Rojo and Seitan:

The cornbread waffle is great. It's almost like a waffle-shaped corn muffin. I love corn muffins so much. The seitan is so simple, but incredibly tasty. I made the Simple Seitan recipe from Veganomicon, and sauteed it with some red onion and yellow pepper. Easy and delicious. I actually ate most of it without the mole or the waffles and think it'd be great over rice. This was my first mole and I found it really interesting. I don't think I've ever made anything with such a wide variety of ingredients before. Chocolate, chili, raisins, peanut butter, tortilla chips and other things all came together to make a really nice sauce. It was so nice some of my friends at it alone and one did a little dance with her waffle:

Buckwheat Waffles with Red Wine Tarragon Mushroom Gravy:

That waffle looks a little odd because it was the last one, made with the leftover batter. It was the only one to get eaten at the picnic because we were full and it was small. The buckwheat waffles are good, and feel kind of healthy, which is nice. The gravy is rich and awesome. I'd love to put it over mashed potatoes (actually, that may be dinner tonight) or seitan steaks. I'm definitely going to make it again in the winter.

Wallowing in Waffles:

Of everything I've made for brunch so far, I think I've had the most fun with sausage (get your minds out of the gutters, people). The recipes are so easy: make dough, wrap it up like a Tootsie Roll in some foil and steam it. In less than an hour, you have tasty sausages. This time, I made Cherry Sage Sausages. Dried cherries in sausages never would have occurred to me, but I'm glad it occurred to Isa because they freaking rule.

You know what else is kind of awesome? Tofu Benny. Seriously. Have you ever had homemade vegan hollandaise while sitting on the ground in Brooklyn? I have. It'll be something to tell the grandkids. Someone else's grandkids.

Yup. That there is marinated tofu over a slice of tomato with smoked salt, on a bed of Diner Home Fries from Veganomicon, smothered in hollandaise. It tastes even better than it looks and sounds, I swear. And the cute little circles sit so nicely on top of the tomato slices (the tomato in the picture is hiding; you can almost see it on the right). It's one of those fairly easy but impressive looking dishes I love so much (it looks way more impressive when it doesn't spend an hour on the train, honest).

Does Scrambled Tortillas sound odd to you? It sounded odd to me, but I soldiered on and I'm glad I did because this is easy comfort food. It's sort of like Mexican Matzo Brei. The flavor took a few bites to grow on me, but I totally dig it now. I swear it tastes better than it looks.

Scones are required eating for brunch, right? How about Berry Lavender Scones? Those should be required eating for all the time. The recipe calls for marionberries, but I've never even seen one of those, so I made mine with a mix of raspberries and blackberries. I can't say anyone complained! These were my first scones ever and they came out quite well. Sadly, they got squished under the rest of the food on the way over (but they tasted fine, just the same):

We also had Polenta Rancheros with Cashew Sour Cream. I love polenta. I'd put it on anything. This is a nice, beany way to have it. I've eaten it for lunch every day this week and am not sick of it yet (which is sad because I just ate the last portion). I have to say the Cashew Sour Cream doesn't really taste like sour cream, though. Instead, it tastes good. I've always hated sour cream, but I'm throwing this cashew stuff on pretty much everything. Both are really easy, make a lot and reheat well, so this is a definite not-miss recipe.

All that was great, but a meal is nothing without dessert. Lucky for me, Lauren (pictured above with waffle) brought the Veganomicon Strawberry-Plum Crisp. Even after all that food, I had two large helpings. She managed to keep it warm the whole time and it was one of the best desserts I've ever had. I will definitely have to make it myself soon. Like weekly.

Despite that, when getting together with a group, I can never resist the urge to bake something (and the scones just weren't enough), so I made donuts. Yes, donuts. I got the recipe from VeganYumYum, the mini donut pan from Amazon and had a grand time.

The chocolate ones came out very similar to the ones from Entenmann's, just a bit more bitter because I used semi-sweet chocolate. I think I may try these again using rice milk chocolate.

And with sprinkles. Like Homer Simpson, but more awesome:

Hopefully, my next post will be cake!