Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm Not so Good with the Goodbyes...

Not once in my life have I ever thought to myself, "I could go for a drink of Baileys." I'm honestly not even sure what it could go into other than coffee, and coffee is just not my thing. It smells like acrid poo to me, and I imagine the taste is strikingly similar. Perhaps if I had just been adding Baileys into it this whole time, it would have sufficed. But I'm told drinking booze before noon is generally frowned upon, so I'll never know. My point is, Baileys is like the wing man of spirits. It can take a boring drink and spice it up so just about anyone will agree to drink it. If that's not going in for the assist, I just don't know what is. I've fondly been adding Baileys into my frosting when I make my Guinness chocolate cake for ages, and the two just compliment each other so well. I started thinking to myself what if I ditched the middleman and just make a Baileys cake? Could Baileys possibly stand on its own and become the star player? These are the hard-hitting questions a former journalist turned baker ponders. Sure, my life could use some direction, but...cake. I'm happy to report that sometimes even the silliest of dreams can come true. Baileys cake is now the best damn cake I've ever had in my life.
Perhaps I should've prefaced this.
Yes, I am one of the meanest friends you could ever have, thank you for noticing! I was commissioned to make this cake originally for a friend of ours who is going off to pilot training. It also happens to be time for my husband to take another one of those government-mandated vacations in the near future, so our friends requested this cake also be a farewell for him, too. But in the beginning when it was simply a "good luck and goodbye" cake, I didn't want to make some sappy, sentimental cake. I'm not so good with the goodbyes, but I am excellent with the snark. Our friend happens to share my same love of sarcasm and snarkiness, so I decided to go full speed ahead with a message that was both...along with some rainbows, a very tiny airplane, and a unicorn. I had to ditch the unicorn when my husband's note was added in, but I think the message stands: we love screwing with you, friend.
This is perfectly normal.
See, he loved it. No hurt feelings, just a really big mess. And some general looks of disapproval.
You can also get away with making someone a mean cake when it is literally the best tasting cake in the world. Seconds were had. There was drooling, and not just by me! Seriously though, I show my love for my friends not with words, but by actions. Spending several days coming up with an idea and a full day baking, frosting, and decorating a cake is my way of being nice. Who doesn't love cake?
I told you, you can't have coffee without Baileys.
I had to search high and low for a recipe that I thought would be correct and was also in standard units of measurement my lazy American ass is used to...there are boatloads of Baileys cake recipes on the internet, but all of them are from across the pond. You'd think this cream was like Irish or something. Wait... But I finally found this recipe. It is pretty foolproof, but some details on ingredients if you're not a seasoned baker are very helpful, so let me guide you my dear child.
  • 2 cups of flour, sifted or using the scoop and swoop method with a spoon. Just don't hard pack it.
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa  
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg at room temp
  • 2/3 cup of vegetable oil...I wanted to try real butter for this, but opted to follow the recipe. It is plenty rich without the butter.
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk at room temp
  • 1/4 cup of Baileys at room temp
  • 1 cup of coffee at room temp
Remember, all ingredients will incorporate much better flavor- and baking-wise if they are at the same temperature. Plus hot coffee + 1 egg = a really gross scrambled mess. Start by greasing a 9x13 or two 8-inch round pans and preheating the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together all dry ingredients and set aside. In your stand mixer, mix the egg, oil, buttermilk, Baileys, and coffee on low until blended. Add in a third of the dry mix, blend, and scrape the bowl. Do this two more times. Turn the batter into a pan and bake according to your pan size...I used a 9x13 and my cake was done at 28 minutes, so look for that window between 25-30 minutes.
Just the most perfect brick of cake I've ever seen.
Let the cake cool in the pan on top of a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and letting it finish cooling on the rack.
I couldn't make a cake and not use copious amounts of butter at some point.
I tweaked my Baileys frosting recipe so there was more of a butter base this time and less Crisco. I'm becoming a real frosting snob, and the more butter the better.
  • 1 cup of Crisco
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter at room temp
  • 1 tablespoon of CLEAR vanilla extract if you want whiter frosting, otherwise use regular
  • 6 cups of powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons of Baileys
Start by blending the butter and Crisco. Then add in the tablespoon of vanilla, one tablespoon of Baileys, and two cups of sugar and blend. Repeat the sugar/Baileys blending process until you've used all six cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of Baileys. I opted for the extra tablespoon to make piping easier and less stiff. Now let's take a walk down crappy photo montage lane.
Obviously a crumb coat is necessary for a cake this dark with white frosting. I would've given it two crumb coats, but every ounce of frosting is spoken for with this cake. Let the crumb coat freeze for 30 minutes in the freezer.
Then place the final coat on and freeze for 15 minutes. Not pictured is what you need to do next: the Viva paper towel trick to smooth out the top and sides. Make it pretty, y'all.
So, I kind of shot myself in the foot with this rainbow idea.
Rainbows are kind of known for being colorful. They're also a pain in the ass to put on a cake for that same reason. I used 7 tips fitted with #21 and #18 open star tips to decorate the rainbow. The larger tips are for the colors "closer" to the view. I then spent 87 years mixing small amounts of frosting with the respective proper dye colors. I also made an extra bowl of grey frosting for the airplane and placed that in a bag wit h a #3 tip to start. The black frosting for the writing was made by mixing all leftover colored frosting together with a bit of black dye and placed into a bag fitted with another #3 tip. For the clouds and border, reserve a large amount of white frosting.
Here I am preparing to paint with all the colors of the wind. Thanks, Roy G. Biv.

I started everything off by drawing and writing in where everything would go with a toothpick. Then I made the outside edges of the rainbow so I would know how much space I had for each color.
Once I had filled in my rainbow, I took my bag of white frosting fitted with a #1A large open round tip and made my clouds. I let frosting pile up and swirled it around with the tip to achieve that puffy look.

I mean, this is best birthday cake for an 8 year-old-girl ever at this point.
I outlined the plane in grey with the #3 tip before switching to a #21 tip.
Then I filled in the plane with that star tip.
After mixing the black frosting with the leftover colors and the black dye, I piped out the message very slowly and carefully with a #3 tip.

I've come across a lot of challenges in my life being left handed, but none so greater than trying to write on a cake. There was a lot of cursing, sweating, and praying simultaneously, so someone upstairs was probably doing a lot of head shaking and palm-to-forehead smacking.
I then switched my white frosting to a #21 tip and piped a shell border around the sides. So fancy and official...if the rest of the cake wasn't covered in rainbows and mean wording.
This ends the crappy photo montage. You're welcome.
 I'm going to be obsessing over this recipe for weeks to come. My only regret is that I had just one piece. No one wants to have to share, but in circumstances such as going away parties, it is a necessary evil. Otherwise the only person anyone would want to go away is the person bogarting the cake. It still may have been worth it? This cake is not dense, but yet somehow packed full of moist chocolatey flavor with a hint of Baileys. Well, more than a hint of Baileys thanks to the frosting. I'm very much so a have your cake and booze it, too, kinda gal, so this recipe was without a doubt the best cake I've ever had. What I'm saying is, go make this cake. This cake recipe is my equivalent to winning the Powerball lotto. Decadent. Rich. Dreamy. A real jackpot. I think I'm out of adjectives at this point, so I'm off to drool over this cake some more. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Soar high, touch the clouds, other inspirational message here.

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