ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake Insanity

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When it comes to eating healthy, I’m not always known for my self-discipline. Sure, I had a month this summer where I stayed away from all carbs, breads, and otherwise joy-inducing foods, but generally, I’m in a constant state of declaring healthy intentions while simultaneously shoving Kit-Kats into my face. This past week was no exception. Things started off in a dark (read: wonderful place) when a visit to the Orange County Fair resulted in sublime consumption of funnel cake, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and various other diet-adverse items. I swore I would do better for myself, but of course, things rapidly spiraled out of control.

You see, the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated appeared in my mailbox, and in its monochromatic pages was a recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake. Suddenly, hearts appeared in my eyes and Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo & Juliet blared all around me. I had to make this. I had to! But I couldn’t, especially not during this week of county fair gut reparations. Besides, why would I just make a CAKE for no reason?

And then fate came calling. Turns out I had plans to attend a game night at the end of the week, and as luck would have it, that game night was now being upgraded to a birthday celebration for my friend Lodric. I was told I was on cake duty, and far be it for me to deny that responsibility. The planets had aligned: I had the perfect excuse to make the chocolate-caramel layer cake.

It was on.

But was it worth it? Keep reading to find out…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Of Cakes, Carrot and Red Velvet Edition

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For some reason, I found myself baking a lot of birthday cakes this summer. Specifically, I made two carrot cakes and two red velvet cakes. Based on this staggeringly high output, I now consider myself an expert on the subject, which means nothing really, but any chance I get to call myself an expert on something is celebration enough (for me). This all is my way of saying that in my EXPERT opinion, you all should make these cakes.

First, we have a carrot cake. Technically, it’s Ina Garten’s carrot and pineapple cake. Here’s what you need to know: this will be the very best carrot cake you will ever make. I’ve made it twice now (and once another time), and it has been stupendous. Seasoned carrot cake fans such as my dear friend Sly will attest that it is the best carrot they’ve ever eaten. This is no joke, people While Ina Garten may be known for her Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe, it’s this wonderful carrot masterpiece that should be the crown jewel in her dessert empire (I’ve made both, and I say it with authority — although, the chocolate cake is delicious too).

And then we have the red velvet cake. This beloved cake is a bit of a tricky beast to master — I think we’ve all taken bites of our fare share of dry, crumbly versions. But I’m happy to report that the recipe I’ve found online delivers a moist, flavorful cake that will please even the snobbiest of red velvet fans.

Pics of the cakes after the jump…

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WOW: Louboutins in CAKE FORM

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Every so often, I post some amazing cake that my friend Mark Randazzo has whipped up at his bakery, Mark Joseph Cakes. Well, this latest offering for a Trump Soho bridal shower is one of his most impressive, at least in terms of recreations. It’s a cake in the form of a Christian Louboutin shoebox with a red-soled sugar shoe on the side. Color me impressed. I fully expect this to take Pinterest by storm.

ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Entenmann’s Cake Challenge Results!

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Last month, I challenged readers to submit their favorite cake recipes in the hopes of winning a brand new copy of Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking, courtesy of — you guessed it — Entenmann’s. Well, I’m happy to announce that I’ve since decided upon two finalists, baked up the recipes, and shared the end products with an esteemed panel of judges. The winner — and pictures of the baking process — after the jump…

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Inside Mark Joseph Cakes

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Every so often I post about my friends’ bakery, Mark Joseph Cakes, which is run by Mark Randazzo and his wife Leslie. Mark is responsible for my most popular blog post of all time (the famed R2-D2 cake, which still draws hundreds of readers every day), and I’m happy to report that since that droid cake first appeared on this blog three and a half years ago (!!), Mark and Leslie have been up to great things. Not only do they still crank out awesome cakes, but they now consistently land on the pages of various bridal magazines such as The Knot and most recently, they were profiled in New York with a full page spread.

On a recent trip to Manhattan, Mark and Leslie invited me over to their lovely Upper East Side workspace — a humble bakery adorned with a simple yet eye-catching sign. Walking in through the front door, I was assaulted by all manners of cake aromas. I could have fainted from bliss (that happens, right?), but I kept it together for the sake of the blog, Mark and Leslie, and humankind in general. After the jump, check out some pics from inside Mark Joseph Cakes… Continue reading

ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake Edition

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Last week, I was both craving chocolate and feeling the need to procrastinate on an epic scale. What better excuse to bake a chocolate cake? But which recipe should I use? The last time I tried to make chocolate cake, I made an epic disaster by fusing a Mark Bittman recipe with an Aida Mollenkamp pudding frosting. It was all sorts of wrong (although the pudding frosting was quite delicious). Nevertheless, when it comes to these sort of First World problems, I always head to my favorite TV cook: Ina Garten! One of Ina’s top recipes is her famous “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake,” which currently has a five-star rating on Foodnetwork.com with 1,250 reviews. Yes, this is probably Ina’s most popular offering, but I’ve never attempted it before because quite frankly I was scared.

You see, about two years ago, my friend jash attempted Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, and the result was a smoky, messy cake wreck. The batter overflowed in his pans, spilling out all over the oven and wreaking general havoc on his kitchen. This was notable because a) Ina recipes rarely go this wrong, and b) jash is a very accomplished home cook in his own right. He NEVER encounters such catastrophe. Surely if jash couldn’t succeed, what chance did I have? I mean, earlier this summer I left the FLOUR out of a cookie recipe. I made cookies with NO FLOUR. I shouldn’t even say that I made cookies. I made a crumbly MESS. Beatty’s Chocolate Cake would certainly be a risky endeavor.

Pictures of my valiant attempt after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Bundt Seriously, Folks

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Once again, CSN Stores gave me a gift certificate for me to use in return for some reviews of whatever I purchase with it. For my latest batch of housewares, I ordered a Bundt pan because, well, why not? I wouldn’t say that I’m an avid Bundt maker, but it’s nice having the pan, and the thought of replicating those amazing Costco chocolate ring cakes in my very own kitchen was a bit too intoxicating to pass up. And so I happily added a nifty Bundt pan to my cart, and a few scant days later, it arrived on my doorstep (ironically the very same day that local bakery Kiss My Bundt went out of business. The circle of Bundt life continues).

Nevertheless, I had my new pan, but as I opened the box, I was in for quite the surprise…

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