Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cookteen Turns 1 Year Old.

Not the person, the blog. Oh what a year...

Food has been a part of my life since day 1.  If your an ardent follower of Cookteen, then you already know that the majority of the time I was able to spend with my mom was on the set of various food television shows.  I would sit there, crayon in my right hand coloring my Disney Princess coloring book and a sugar cookie in my left.  Oh boy did I love Paula Deen's sugar cookies.  To this day I will never forget when my mom came home from a week long shoot in upstate New York with a bag of the delicious cookies made just for me. 
Last summer was the first year I didn't return to camp.  Instead I took a cake decorating class with my mom (as seen here, here and here).  Baking became what I loved.  The time I spent in the kitchen was my favorite.  I would think about how what I was making will taste after all the chemical stuff happened in the oven, about what I would do with 24 cupcakes and only a family of 4, and about how I was going to survive junior year.

I have survived one of the most challenging yet exciting years of my life so far and I have learned that this is only the beginning.  Whether in the kitchen, in the classroom or on the sports are never too old to stop learning.  

1 year ago: I sat in the car while my mom drove me to work as we bounced around names for a blog.  Cookteen was born.
Today: Not only do I drive myself to work, but also I can drive to the supermarket to pick up “forgotten” ingredients.
12 months ago: I thought that blog followers would just magically appear.
Today: I have done my share of social media research and have built a following of readers, bakers and fellow foodies. 

52 weeks ago: The only successful red velvet cake that came out of my oven was made by Duncan Hines.  Dumbblondie held true to her name when she tried to bake Magnolia’s recipe and forgot an ingredient.  Mixing a little bit of vinegar into each cupcake right before baking does not work—it will taste like poison.
Today: I was easily able to whip up one of the best red velvet cakes I have ever eaten.  And despite my young age, there has been a lot of red velvet cakes in my tummy.
365 days ago: I was preparing to spend the next 10 months studying and taking the whole alphabet worth of standardized tests. (PSATs, SATs, ACTs, SATIIs, APs) Blech!
Today: I am writing my college essay and filling out applications in hopes of getting into the college of my dreams.

8,760 hours ago: I used to have to read a recipe and follow it exactly.
Today: I read recipes for inspiration.  My kitchen is not a food network set and therefore ingredients and appliances aren’t readily at hand, but I am no longer frightened by that, I embrace it.  Every time is a new opportunity to add my own flavors, use my own methods and create my own version.

I hope your year was as eventful as mine and I thank you for spending time with me.  I look forward to what this blog will bring in the upcoming year but for now “Let’s eat cake.”

A view of how (and where) I made the cake
I didn't want to print the recipe...

Step 1: The Batter

Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla, red food coloring, water, salt, flour, buttermilk,vinegar, baking soda

Cream the butter and the sugar until nice and light and fluffy.

Add in one egg and keep on mixing

In a separate bowl, combine the food coloring (mixed with 2 tbsp H20), cocoa and vanilla to create a "thick paste" (I don't think I acheived that goal...)

Dump that right in there as well.  Mix and make sure everything gets nice and red.  (Aka: you might need to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure no bit of batter is left yellow)

Then add half of the buttermilk.  I used regular milk (skim to be exact) and added a tablespoon of vingegar to it.  Then I topped it off with some more milk to obtain one cup.

Mix baby mix.
Now time for half of the flour/salt mixture

Once again: Mix baby mix.  

Add in the rest of the buttermilk and mix it nice and good.
Then the rest of the flour.

Beat it till smoooooth like a babies tush.  Sorry that was too tempting.

Bring it low and add in vinager and baking soda. Bad decision: don't be on the phone for this step.  My lovely sister called me informing me of her cupcake expedition and well when the fizzles happened, I bugged minorly.

Bring it back up to high speed for a few more minutes and then your done!
With the batter...
Baked in 2 6'' springform pans (and 4 Jumbo cupcakes)

Life of a food blogger part dos:

Step 2: The Frosting
Red velvet is typically paired with cream cheese frosting.  I'm not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting but the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting spotted on Joythebaker just looked too good to pass up.

Ingredients: butter, cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar, powdered sugar, milk
Nothing out of the ordinary for when you're making cream cheese frosting.  I made 3/4 of the recipe because I was low on powdered sugar.

Cream the butter and the cream cheese together
When I was little I could never decide if I wanted cream cheese or butter on my Sunday morning bagel.  My mom always put butter on one half and cream cheese on the other.  It was so delicious--this spread would be perfect for that! (Less knives to wash...)

Light brown sugar.

Add the brown sugar and vanilla.  I used the fake, clear stuff to keep the frosting white thinking I was going to dye it.  Silly me forgot I wasn't making the usual buttercream.  Beat for approx. 2 minutes

Turn off the mixture and add 2 cups of powdered sugar (I used that amount even though I reduced the recipe)

Powdered sugar has a tendency to get everywhere.  Its like frosting dust...

What the recipe says: Turn the mixer on a low speed so the sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl.  Slowly add more sugar alternately with the milk until you reach your desired consistency.
I did not turn it on slowly.  Hence the powdered sugar everywhere...whoops.  And I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk and the rest of the sugar (for a total of 3 cups)
Delicious waves of frosting.  I wanted to go surfing on the bowl.  Now only if I were that teeny, tiny...

Step 3: Leveling the cakes
The Dome. Domes don't make for level cakes so I had to use my fancy shmancy cake leveler to chop that right off.  No fret..No cake goes to waste--cake balls (DUH)

Repeat with the other cake:

Step 4: Fill it up
Place one cake on a cake circle (a cardboard circle).  These can be purchased at any craft store or made! I ran out of circles so I cut a manila folder into a circle and layered it with lots of tin foil to "bulk" it up.  You will need something under the cake to transport it from table to swivel cake stand to pretty cake stand.
Dollop a generous amount of frosting on the bottom layer of cake and spread evenly across the top.  Try not to go too close to the edges to prevent "leakage."

Then top with the second cake layer.  Have the flat side up (to be the top of the cake)

Giant whoopie pie much?

But no we are not done.  We are moving on to....

Step 5: The Crumb Coat
Coat the entire cake in a super thin layer of frosting.  It doesn't matter if crumbs get in  because once all covered and set you will never see those crumbs.   Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes, or until set.
Step 6: Frosting (For Real!)
Dollop another hefty (and I mean hefty!) amount of frosting on the top of the cake

In the Wilton Cake Class I took last year, they taught us to put A LOT of frosting on at once and work it around the top until enough hangs off the edge and then run the off-set spatula against the side of the cake to create a perfect finish.  Does that make sense?

Basically: it is hard to add frosting to the side of the cake so you want to add as much to the down and work it down the sides.

Step 6: Devour.
By far the best part.  Tasting that first bite of something that took you hours to make.  There is nothing like that.  Yes, I could have headed a few towns over to a delicious bakery and buy a slice of red velvet cake for instant gratification but this tastes SO MUCH BETTER!

Happy Birthday Blog<3

With love and cupcakes,

Red Velvet Cake (Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)
makes 2 8-inch or 9-inch round cakes
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 egg
5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tablespoons red food coloring mixed with 2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans.  Set aside.  
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Turn mixer to high and add  the eggs.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste.  Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.  You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk.  Add half of the flour and salt and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour.  Beat on high until smooth.

Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar.  Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.
Spoon batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Joy the baker)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk
4-6 cups powdered sugar
depending on desired consistency

Cream the butter and cream cheese together in an electric mixer.  (Be sure that the two are at room temperature.  Cold cream cheese or butter can make your frosting lumpy.)  Add the brown sugar and vanilla extract, and beat for about 2 minutes.  Turn off mixer and add 2 cups of powdered sugar.  Turn the mixer on a low speed so the sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl.  Slowly add more sugar alternately with the milk until you reach your desired consistency.  I like my cupcake frosting to be slightly more thick than cake frosting, so it can hold its shape on the cupcake


  1. Happy Birthday Cookteen!
    This was the most delicious cake I have ever had and I now need to go back on my diet.
    Keep it up kiddo--we love you.

  2. Congratulations, keep up the awesome blog!

  3. Wow the cake looks phenomenal! Red velvet is my absolute favorite- it was part of our wedding cake. I must admit, yours looks even more delicious!

    Congrats on a year of blogging! I am thoroughly impressed by your wisdom and maturity. When I was finishing up my junior year (back in '99, gosh I feel old) I couldn't even make macaroni and cheese. I'm so happy to have found your blog!

    btw, if you don't mind me asking- where in upstate NY had your mom traveled to? I live in the area :)



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