I twisted my knee in class this morning, so today is the perfect day to prop it up and get that extra blog post out!
Todd recently celebrated his 42nd birthday. Since I haven't been baking much, I was really excited about making him something decadent. Would he pick Martha's six layer chocolate cake with salted caramel filling? Maybe a three layer chocolate cake with peanut butter cream? Oh - maybe homemade cinnamon rolls with lots of sweetened cream cheese? Homemade vanilla bean cookie dough ice cream?? I was salivating just thinking about it! But in the end, he selected a simple coconut cream pie. "That's it?" I said. "No chocolate? No buttercream? No ice cream? Just a pie?" Who is this person I married? In the end, since it was his birthday (and not mine!), I gave in and made his pie. I had to make an additional treat, though. He was in the mood for something light, and he loves strawberries, so I decided to make a strawberry cake roll. I used Julia Child's recipe for the cake roll and made my own whipped cream. Oh...homemade whipped cream. If you've never made it, you've got to try. It's so easy. Pour a couple cups of heavy whipping cream into your mixer and beat it until it starts to stiffen. Add a dash of vanilla and 1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Don't overwhip...you could make butter!
Buy some fresh strawberries.
Make Julia's cake roll (recipe below). Just like other cake rolls, you need to loosen the edges and turn it over, all at once, onto a damp towel. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar...
...and roll it up in the towel.
I did not refrigerate it for 2 hours like Julia instructed, and I should have. My cake stuck to the towel a bit. So do as I say, not as I did!
After you have refrigerated it for 2 hours, unroll it and spread on your whipped cream.
Pile on your strawberries.
Carefully roll it up, dust with powdered sugar, and refrigerate until serving. I would recommend slicing your strawberries into smaller pieces, because my roll didn't want to roll. It was messy, but I eventually got the job done.
I had enough batter left to fill the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan, so I made a mini roll and repeated the above steps.
I put it in the freezer and surprised Todd with it three weeks after his birthday. He loved the cake roll...and that coconut cream pie!
If you'd like to make it, here is Julia's recipe:
Vanilla Chiffon Roll
barely adapted from Julia Child
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a jelly roll pan, or a cookie sheet with a lip works nicely too. Sift together your dry ingredients (including the lemon zest, minus 1/2 cup sugar). In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks, oil, water, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, whisking continuously. With your mixer, beat 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Then add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until you have stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of this mixture into your other mixture, and then turn the first mixture (the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients added) into the remaining egg white mixture. Fold together. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until golden. After it cools a bit, follow my instructions above for creating the cake roll.
On a non-cooking front...when I've had a little spare time, I've played in my craft room. I splurged and bought two big Stampin' Up craft punches, and I love how versatile they are. I get lot of ideas from Pinterest, and one link led me to an interesting craft blog: Blinkin', Thinkin', and Inkin'. She used her bird punch to make realistic-looking birds. I was hooked!
Here I'm making a bluebird (on a very overcast day - sorry!). I punched out the main color, blue.
I punched out a silhouette in the contrast color, orange, and another set of white. I cut a sliver of tum from the white birds and pasted it onto the orange ones.
Then I cut off the orange heads and tails, leaving just the abdomen.
These I glued onto the blue silhouettes.
Then I added the wings.
Pretty cool, right? But my favorite is the chickadee. I cut out black silhouettes just for the head. I cut out white silhouettes for the tum and face stripe, and grey for the main bird and wings.
I glued on the face stripes and tums...
...and then put it all together. It was easy to line up the heads, since they were cut from the same mold.
I also made towhees (black and orange), cardinals (red), and goldfinches (yellow), five of each since I already had the equipment out.
They seemed unfinished, so I went to Michael's and bought some Swarovski crystal eyes.
I'm pretty much in love with them. The craft punch includes a leafy branch, so you've got everything you need to create 'a scene'. I haven't had time to make any cards with them, but I can't wait! I am also excited about trying other realistic birds.
I've been having some fun with another punch this week, so I'll try to post that soon. Have a great week!