Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy 1st Blog-iversary!

Today my blog is one year old!

I can't believe and entire year has gone by since starting this whole project. A year ago, I was just starting off in the school of education.  I had just pierced my ear (you know, the one that got infected a month later), I made a great pumpkin pie for a Thanksgiving Dinner with my learning team, and I decided to write a blog post about it.

My friend Max thought of two really great names: CollegeCulinista and BinomialBaker.  Now that I am more involved as a math teacher, and a few short months away from graduation, BinomialBaker it is and will stay.

I love this blog.  I really can't explain it, but it has been a source of fun, stress relief, and development for me.  Writing blog posts has helped me to think through a lot of things going on in my life.  Documenting recipes has helped me create lasting memories of my adventures in the kitchen with friends and family.  Overall, this blog has helped me through a lot and taught me a lot about myself.

People are always asking me what this is all about or why I do it.  To be honest, I'm not sure.  At first, it was just a journal, but now I think it has grown into something more.  I have always loved creating food for others and my sweet tooth has helped me to come up with some really fun food adventures.  Writing about them has just become a fun way to remember.  I have never been a writer.  In fact, in high school, one of my English teachers discouraged me so much in writing that I began to fear and hate it.  I am still not fond of writing, but this blog has helped me to recognize the power in writing.

I have come so far in the past year.  I have learned so much about food and cooking.  I have expanded my Foodie network to meet tons of other great bloggers.  I have learned about life as well.  Since starting a food blog, I have become more active and even lost the last 10 pounds I was going for to reach my goal.  I have also developed as a student and teacher.  I went from being a math nerd, to practicum student, to student teacher.  This journey has helped me to shape my philosophies regarding teaching and now I feel prepared to share my views on helping students learn.

To celebrate such a wonderful year, I have decided to make the cake of my dreams.  Red velvet is my favorite kind of cake.  It is such a tasty cake and the traditional cream cheese frosting makes it a hit.  I can't say no to anything with cream cheese frosting.  Then, a layer of cheesecake just made sense to me because it would go so well with the cream cheese frosting.  Also, this is a red and white cake which is perfect for me being a Badger! Now, I love cake and all, but I really can't eat an entire one all on my own.  So, I shared it with the sisters of Delta Theta Sigma.  This cake really is about everything that is important to me: food, education, and friends.  It was perfect.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Layered Cake

For the Cheesecake: (adapted from Joy of Baking)

16 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 eggs
1 egg white
2 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 10 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper.  Grease the sides of the pan.
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and flour until well combined.  Scrape down the sides and beat in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until well combined.  Scrape down the sides and beat in the cream, lemon zest, and vanilla.  Beat for 2-3 minutes.
3.  Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.  After 15, lower the temperature to 250 degrees and continue to bake for 60-65 minutes.  The cheesecake should be firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the middle.  Let cool for 1 hour.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight.

For the Red Velvet Cake: (adapted from Joy of Baking)

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup skim buttermilk (1 tbsp white vinegar with 1 cup skim milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes)
2 tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp white vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, and salt together.
3.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla.
4.  In a measuring cup, mix the red food coloring with the buttermilk.
5.  Alternate adding in the flour mixture with the buttermilk mixture in three additions starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.
6.  Mix the baking soda with the vinegar so that it fizzes.  Using a spatula, fold this mixture into your cake batter.
7. Working quickly, divide the batter between the two pans and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Once cool, wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour so that they firm up and are easier to decorate.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz cream cheese
1 cup butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp half and half

1.  Beat the cream cheese with the butter for 3-4 minutes or until well combined and fluffy.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at at time, until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla and half and half and continue to beat for a few minutes.  Frosting will be fluffy.  Place in fridge until ready to use.

Assemble the cake:

1. Spread a little bit of frosting in the middle of your serving plate.  Place the first layer of red velvet cake on top of the frosting.  This will help the cake stick and not slide around.  Spread an even layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cake.
2.  Place the cheesecake on top of this layer and spread and even layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cheesecake.
3.  Place the final layer of red velvet on top of the cheesecake layer and spread cream cheese frosting over the top.
4.  Frost the sides of the cake and decorate as you like.  I ended up sprinkling mini semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top and around the bottom.  The little kick of chocolate took the cake to a whole new level and it looked pretty!

Enjoy :)