Thursday, March 07, 2013

DIY Perpetual calendar/journal

Back toward the beginning of the year I posted about the shelf I made from a book. I hinted at a little project that you could see in the photos. I'm finally back with a better look at that project: A market basket perpetual calendar/journal.

I first saw the project on design*sponge and loved it. I second saw the project on Sarah Marguerite and loved it. I third received a ceramic market basket as a gift and loved it.
I cut down the pages from a beautiful letterpress calendar from 2012 to use as my dividers. After much stamping and cutting (you could easily write in the dates instead but the stamp was fun and fairly inexpensive), I now I have my very own ongoing journal that requires little more than a sentence or two here and there. You can see the full, detailed instructions over on design*sponge.

I think it will be fun to cycle through each year and see what I was getting up to in years past.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Book Business Tuesday: From Childhood

When I visited with my family back in January, my mom brought me a large box of my childhood books. It included some of my all-time favorites that she had been keeping safe for me while I moved from one small apartment to the next. There is plenty of Robert McCloskey, Eric Carle, Richard Scarry, Dr. Suess and Babar.

I have especially fond memories of this version of Mother Goose with illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa. And I can remember devouring several Mary Poppins books cover-to-cover, while sick in bed as a youngster. 

Isn't it fun what memories books can hold?!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Blackout Cake

Happy Monday, people! Guess what? I baked you a cake. Yes, that's right — a cake. A luscious, layered chocolate cake.

At the beginning of each year I have a tendency to make big promises here on the blog … and then proceed to immediately forget and/or ignore them. In 2010, I declared it the year of cake. I had never made what I termed a "grown-up" cake and stated that I would do so in 2010. I did not.

This year, I promised I would post a recipe a week. I did kinda okay in January: Paris Mushroom Soup, Chicken Tinga TacosChallah Bread. I even made it into the first week of February: Butter Chicken. Then, boom: Nada. Nothing. *sigh.*

You'd think I would learn. I wanted to make it up to you with a cake. A real, tried-and-true grown-up cake. My first tried-and-true grown-up cake. This is a rich, dense chocolate cake—not for the faint of heart, which I know you are not.

Chocolate Blackout Cake
via Food & Wine

1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
2/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and coat lightly with flour. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the 1 stick of butter with the shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla. At very low speed, beat in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 2 1/4 cups of cake flour and the milk in 3 separate alternating batches, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl occasionally.

2. Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then invert them onto a rack and let cool completely.

3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a large saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup of water until smooth; whisk into the cocoa mixture. Cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Scrape the filling into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the filling. Let cool, then refrigerate until firm, 45 minutes.

4. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake layer horizontally. Break up the less attractive top cake layer and transfer to a food processor; pulse into crumbs. Reserve the two cake bottoms and one smoother top.

5. Set one of the cake bottoms on a cake plate and spread with 1 1/2 cups of the filling. Top with the second bottom layer and another 1 1/2 cups of filling. Cover with the cake top and spread the remaining filling all over the top and side. Pat the crumbs all over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.