Monday, August 10, 2015

At Least Cake Doesn't Make You Sweaty.

As most of you are aware, I hate summer. I hate it with a fiery passion that burns hotter than Texas in August, which is to say it is an incredibly intense abhorrence...especially after spending the week before last in cool, breezy, dreamy Vancouver and coming back into the nearly literal hellfire that is the Eastern New Mexico desert. I spent the majority of the past seven days relearning how to breathe and exercise at altitude. I spent the majority of the past seven nights whispering sweet nothings to my humidifier for saving my lungs and nostrils from spilling out of my nose and running back to the Pacific Northwest. I wouldn't have blamed them for trying. Clearly, this was a problem that only cake could help placate. Or is it placake?
Definitely placakeable.

Yes, under those giant Cool Whip peaks and delectable gumdrop flowers is indeed a cake ripe for the taking. But not just any cake...a cake perfect for summer: a white cake with lemon filling. Sweet, sour, and light, the taste combinations are enough to make even the biggest curmudgeon (Hi, my name is Kate, tolerable to meet you) forget how gross and sticky it is outside. Best of all, this cake takes me back to simpler times (and summers that involved lots of swimming and boating to tolerate the heat) because it is something my mom would make with frequency while I was growing up. It could be argued that I am, in fact, still growing up...or out, depending on how much cake I eat.
Did I mention this was quick AND easy? I know, I love it, too.
I realize I very rarely use box cake mix anymore when I bake. But guess what? I have found that even the fanciest of from-scratch recipes still end up tasting almost the same as taking a box cake and adding an extra egg, opting for butter over oil with the amount doubled, and subbing milk for the water. This is a tried and true way of making something so simple taste like you slaved over it all damn day. So for this cake, start with a box of your regular cake mix and follow directions, adding in the substitutions I mentioned above for a bakery-type richness in your cake. In this case, only use egg whites in your cake. Otherwise you're pretty much gonna end up with a yellow cake, which is also really tasty, so I guess you do you, but I prefer the lemon filling with white cake. I also really enjoy separating egg yolk and egg whites because I'm a complete weirdo with a slightly major case of OCD. I baked this cake in a well-greased 9x13 pan at 350 for 22 minutes. Arbitrary time, but that's what worked for me.
Things are about to get...stabby.
I still cringe whenever I have to massacre a cake.
After 10 minutes of cooling after pulling out of the oven, turn the cake out of the pan. Let the cake cool on a cooling rack until room temp. Once at room temp, take the wooden end of a spatula/scraper and stab rows of holes into the cake so the filling has a place to go. Speaking of filling, I guess you kinda need to know how to make that stuff, too. You guys are so needy...but much like my love for my dogs, I appreciate your clingy-ness as well.

Still keeping it simple!
You'll want a medium saucepan for this because things will get bubbly. Gather up:
  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring
Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the saucepan. Slowly add and stir in the water, and then bring to a boil. You will want to keep stirring until the mixture is boiling, then set a timer for 5 minutes. Turn the temp down a bit so it is just at a boil and stir like hell the full 5 minutes. If you missed arm day at the gym, this should have you covered. Once the 5 minutes are up and the mixture is thickened, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Finish up by adding in the food coloring and lemon juice.
I realize this just looks like a giant pan of those egg yolks I discarded earlier, but it's not, I swear.
I added an accidental fifth drop of dye, and sweet baby Jesus things were YELLOW. I'd go with 3 drops to keep things less...glow in the dark-y. Now, pour this into a liquid measuring cup and set in the fridge for an hour to settle, cool, and thicken. If you prefer to speed things up, go for the freezer for 30 minutes.
Mmm...lemony goodness.
Once cooled and thickened, very slowly pour into the holes you earlier stabbed into your poor defenseless cake. If any runs off, just wipe up with a damp paper towel...or your finger. Place into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. But back before when I was cooling the filling in the fridge, I made my gumdrop roses:
You beautiful, time-consuming roses, you.
I previously made gumdrop roses to put on top of an angel food cake I made, so if you'd like the detailed tutorial, it can be found here. I ended up making 14 gumdrop roses for this cake, but you don't need to be nearly as ridiculous as I am. Honestly, it would've looked pretty with just 6, but when I go the extra mile, I end up actually going an extra 3 or 4 miles instead. At least my crazy is the productive kind?
Don't worry, we're gonna make it look pretty.
Once the filling was set, I took a large tub of Cool Whip and spread it on my cake with my spatula. Use as much or as little as you  desire. Fun Kate Fact- I hated Cool Whip with a passion until about a year or two ago. My sweet tooth has calmed down a bit in my old age, and I realize not every cake needs to be topped with five inches of chocolate frosting...although I don't object when they are.

Now that's better. To make "waves," simply take a small spoon and press into the Cool Whip. Swirl in a circular motion and pull the spoon up and away quickly. Do this motion over the top and sides of the cake. This will create the wavy look you see here.

It's so easy and fast, yet still quite pretty. The "going the extra foot" of frosting decorations, really.
Then I simply pressed my gumdrops into the Cool Whip so they would stay put.
 And that's it. You're done. Sometimes it really only takes 2 hours to make a delicious AND pretty cake. I sometimes, I really mean quite rarely. Like, you probably have a better chance of finding 100 bucks on the ground in a parking lot or meeting the man of your dreams than finding a decoration style this easy. So bask in the glory and enjoy this precious moment. Almost as precious as the first day of Autumn...which cannot get here fast enough. Until then, crank up the A/C and grab a large slice of lemon-filled white cake with Cool Whip topping. It just may be the one thing that keeps you sane and sweat-free (but definitely not sweets-free) for the remainder of the summer. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Thank you for letting me stab and eat you in order to not die from sweating this summer, lemony cake. You're the real MVP here.

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