Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfect Party Cake

I just completed my first month's challenge as a member of the Daring Bakers group. At the beginning of each month, the appointed host assigns a new baking challenge. We have the month to think about it and make it. At the end of the month, we post about our experience with the challenge. This month's host was Morven, and she chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake.

I'm not much of a decorator but I had a good time making this cake. The layers didn't rise very well. I think it may be because of the flour I used. I ended up using regular all-purpose flour in place of the cake flour but I forgot to subtract 2 Tbs. per cup before adding it to my batter. I still cut the two layers in half and had four very small layers. I tried to add a lot of filling to make my cake look bigger. I used strawberry preserves and whipped cream for my filling. I was dissapointed with the taste of the preserves. They were much too sweet and I would have much rather had a slightly tart homemade strawberry or raspberry jam as a filling. I think it would have complimented the sweet whipping cream and cake flavors a lot more. I also whipped cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla to frost the cake. It was yummy. In the cake batter, I did stick with the original recipe including the lemon extract. I really liked having a little taste of lemon as part of the cake. It definitely didn't turn out perfect but it was fun to try. I would love to try making it again and change some things up to make it even better!

If you feel a hankering to do some fun baking, here is the recipe for you...

The Perfect Party Cake

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
To see other Daring Baker's Blogs Perfect Party Cakes, click here...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

To celebrate our 4000th hit...

We are going to write 4000 random facts about us.

J/k, I think we learned our lesson with our 111 post. :) We are amazed that 4000 people have looked at our blog. We put the counter on here because we thought it would be funny that it would only show like 8 hits. We didn't realize how many random people blog surf and check out people's blogs that they don't even know. Either way, we feel proud to have made it to the big four oh oh oh. Thanks for looking and helping us get there!

Jack is coming back!

When Jack Johnson comes to town, we drop everything. He hasn't come to SLC the last two summers (very disappointing) so we were pretty stoked when we found out he was coming this August. Thanks to the Batchelors, we were able to get in on the presale for the tickets and we are looking forward to another chill evening listening to Jack perform.

Before Jack had made it to radio and mainstream music, Matt was introduced to him by his buddy Josh. Impressed and addicted to Jack's music, Matt introduced the music to his friend Kari Bushman who was the music director at 107.5 The End and told her she needed to get this stuff on the radio. She said she'd give it a shot and decided the song that lent itself best to radio was Taylor. His stuff instantly caught on and off it/he went.

As his popularity increased, he started touring. His first time to Utah was a little club, but this was before many people knew him. The second visit he was opening for Ben Harper at Deer Valley. Steff was 8 1/2 months preggo with Winston, and we went to the concert. While there, we met up with another buddy who took us backstage to meet Jack. It was pretty fun to sit and chat with him. He was awesome. We actually told him we would name our baby Jack. Oops.

Anywho, we can hardly wait to see him again this year. We're so glad he's back. If any of y'all are planning to be there, let us know. Jack, if you're reading this, you can pay us back by hooking us up with tickets to one of your Hawaiian shows... and surfing lessons.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Time Out For Women

I had the opportunity to go to Time Out For Women with my Mom and Sisters in Idaho Falls a couple weeks ago. It all seemed very rushed and we didn't get to spend nearly enough time together but it was great. We had some big laughs and heard some fantastic music and talks. The all star lineup included Sheri Dew, Emily Watts, Chris Stewart, Wendy Watson Nelson, Jason Wright, Sharon G. Larsen, S. Michael Wilcox, Mercy River, Kenneth Cope and Jenny Oaks Baker. We are already planning our next girl's trip...a Time Out For Women Cruise! Hopefully the stars will align and we can make it happen. :)
This is a picture of us in our totally awesome seats. We got in line early and had a game plan to split up and rush the doors when they opened to get the best seats. 8th row...need I say more?

Just hanging out with Kenneth Cope

We were lucky enough to be at the first Time Out For Women that included the new singing group Mercy River. Some of you may recogonize one of the group's members as Spanish Fork's own Whitney Permann. She did awesome and it was really fun to see her perform. How would it be...beautiful, talented and she makes a mean gingerbread house. I was able to snag a Mercy River CD at the TOFW presale and I have to say I love it. Click here and buy yourself a copy today. You won't regret it. :)

The fam with Mercy River

We sort of waited until the last minute (literally) to drop Lorri off at the airport to catch her flight. Nobody was at the ticket counter and the security people said they may or may not come back before the flight was going to leave. This is a picture of Lorri and Wendi running in to catch the flight.

Lorri pacing nervously waiting for the ticket people

They came back in time for her to catch her flight and everything worked out. Phew! One last picture before she hopped the plane back to Washington. Thanks Mom, Lorri and Wendi for making the weekend happen. It was just what the Dr. ordered. :)

Family Fun in Island Park, Idaho

We had a great time with the Butler side of the family in Idaho last month. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Sorry. We've been on blog-burnout.

That last post was killer.

Here's a nugget from a couple days ago. We were sitting down to eat dinner. Winston was giving us grief about eating something or other, which is a regular occurrence. Tired of the routine, we threatened him with something like 'No Lego Star Wars for a week.'

His reply was simple, "Jesus knows you're lying."


OK, OK, one more from yesterday. This is the poor-parenting-with-positive-results-tip-o-the-day:

Winston wouldn't eat his corn. He ate everything else well, but didn't want to finish his corn. So Dad took it upon himself to coax him.

The conversation went something like this:

Dad, in his best show of anticipation: "If you eat all your corn, guess what will happen?"

Winston, expecting a surprise: "What?"

Dad, barely containing his excitement: "Tomorrow, when you go poop, all your corn will be in your poop!"

Winston, genuinely excited: "So I'll eat it in here (points to mouth) and then tomorrow it will go all the way through my body and to my bum?"

Dad: "Yup."

Winston: Consumes every last piece of corn in site, whether on his plate, the table, or anywhere.

Dad: Look of total triumph.

Mom, with a shake of her head: "Great. I can't wait for that to come up in Primary."

Monday, March 03, 2008

111 posts = 111 random things

So we've now posted to this site 111 times in our blogging career. We thought we'd honor such a neat number with an equally neat and random list of likes/dislikes, movie quotes, memories, observations, and about us’s you can get.

111 posts = 111 things.

This made for some good times trying to remember stuff, but it was not easy. We don’t expect anyone to read it all, but did it for the sake of doing it.

We would love to have anyone and everyone comment if so inclined. If you’re commenting on a certain entry, mark the number of the entry by the side of the comment.

And away we go….

1. We love to blog. More so, we love people to comment on our blog. What a weird thing. We write to try to provoke reactions from others. I’m sure there’s some sort of psychoanalysis that says we were starved for attention when we were young.
2. We love our kids, even though they can be a handful at times… but then again, what kid isn’t a handful at times.
3. We really think the name Schneebly is funny. It is from ‘School of Rock.’
4. We named our family Rock Band band ‘The Schneeblies.’
5. We hate confrontation. I think it’s the ‘youngest child’ in us.
6. By the way, we are both youngest children from large-ish families.
7. We like root beer. We’ve actually had ‘taste-offs’ on a couple of occasions where we buy some of every type of root beer we can get and put them in unlabeled cups. They are rated in categories of bite, smoothness, taste and overall rating. You should try it.
8. We were engaged after 3 weeks. Yeah, yeah. Heard it before.
9. We regularly quote the greats of moviedom, like What about Bob?, Better Off Dead, Raising Arizona, etc.
10. Steff likes chocolate or peanut butter in her ice cream. Matt likes fruit.
11. Matt can’t stand peanut butter. Don’t breathe when you’re around him if you’ve eaten it… you’ll be not liked. The most disgusting food ever created.
12. Matt doesn’t kiss Steff after certain ice cream outings (PB again).
13. We love throwing parties. We are always trying to think of new reasons to have a throw down. We’ve had Aebleskiver parties, crepe parties, omelet parties, dessert parties, FHE parties, Guitar Hero parties, pumpkin carving parties, gingerbread house making parties, etc (soon to come Rock Band parties). I guess they usually focus on either eating or something competitive, and the eating usually turns competitive. So, if you like competition, I guess we’re good friends to have.
14. Steff is an awesome swimmer and Matt is not. We’re swimming from Alcatraz to the main island this summer. Should be interesting.
15. “There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.” – What about Bob?
16. We have three cars. Steff drives the nicest – Dodge Grand Caravan with 80K+ miles. Matt drives a Honda Civic with 175K+ miles, and we have an old Jeep we drive around town in the summer.
17. We aspired to get a minivan. Steff’s dream car is a Honda Odyssey. Matt’s is a Jeep Rubicon.
18. We read quite a bit. We’ve both read every Louis L’Amour book ever. We actually read good stuff too. J
19. We like baths.
20. Our bathroom mirror is our vision board (always a work in progress).
21. We’ve lived in our house for almost three years and still have unpacked boxes.
22. We are both creatures of habit. At restaurants (or fast food) we pretty much find something we like and order it every time we go.
23. We share meals at restaurants, but try to tip like we ordered two.
24. We like the whole chocolate-caramel combination thing. We’re also into the mint chocolate world.
25. We still own an original Nintendo that works.
26. Schneebly. Still funny.
27. We’re gardeners. We have a garden. We grow stuff. You know what I’m talking about.
28. We watch TV. Actually, we probably watch too much TV. It’s all about the DVR. Continued on #86.
29. We are not musically inclined. At all. Nothing.
30. Steff has a weird thumb knuckle that she pops just by moving it. She unconsciously pops it many times a day. Its one of those little things I know about that makes her mine.
31. "I've been going to this high school for 7 and 1/2 years, I'm no dummy." – Better Off Dead
32. Steff can roll her tongue. Matt cannot, despite all of Steff’s insistence that it is really easy.
33. We have some pretty messed up conversations after midnight. I think the last one included tarantulas doing the robot dance. Hey, we thought it was funny.
34. We were 25 and 26 when we got married.
35. Steff and Matt have stayed in the penthouse suite at the MGM Grand in Vegas.
36. Steff makes some pretty wicked good peach fruit leather.
37. On a ski trip, Matt shattered his ring finger bone. He still had 2 days of skiing to go, so he had the Dr mold the cast around his ski pole so he could finish the week of skiing.
38. We are not very politically active. Aware? Yes. Active? No.
39. In our Provo apartment, we had a mattress in our front room that we rarely took out of there. We’d fall asleep on it 4 nights out of the week.
40. Matt has two companies of which he’s the president and founder. Neither has ever generated a penny of revenue.
41. Our kid’s favorite songs are Popcorn, ABCs, and Sunbeam.
42. The worst toy investment we ever made was this electric keyboard thing. It is so freakin’ loud and the kids love it. Grrrrr.
43. Most people spell Steff’s name wrong. It’s Steffani, not Stephanie. No biggie, just a clarification.
44. Steff can swim the length of a 50-meter pool on one breath. Think that’s easy? Go try it.
45. Matt’s niece got married before he did.
46. We own three iPods. We haven’t paid for a single one of them. And we didn’t steal them.
47. “H.I., you're young and you got your health, what you want with a job?” – Raising Arizona
48. We are both right handed.
49. It took us like 6 months to pick a color for our front room. We found one, put a quick coat of paint, and liked it. It’s been about 3 months and we still haven’t finished.
50. When Steff and Matt were dating, Steff would regularly leave a loaf of warm bread outside his bedroom door for him to find when he woke up.
51. We buy stuff off ebay all the time.
52. Charlie and Winston are 22 month apart, yet weigh the same and wear the same sized clothes.
53. Matt has read all 8 of the books in the Ender Wiggin series.
54. Matt and Steff have driven in a car going 145mph on a freeway.
55. Currently, in our primary email accounts, we have a combined total of 10,516 emails in the Inboxes, 3,146 in our Spam folders, and 2,310 emails in our Sent folders.
56. You’ve got to love the Schneebly Meister.
57. Steff is from Washington state, but has lived in multiple places across the country.
58. Matt lived in Iceland for two years.
59. We plan on owning (if even partially) a cabin by a lake some day.
60. We both prefer cotton.
61. We have tried to plan on numerous occasions, but have not yet been successful, a trip to Havasupai in Az. It is one of our ‘dream’ destinations.
62. Winston was due exactly 9 months after our wedding day.
63. “Bueller? … Bueller? … Bueller?” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
64. We enjoy the outdoors. We try to have s’mores cookouts in our backyard fire bowl a few times every summer.
65. We’ve been to a Clay Aiken concert.
66. We subscribe to three magazines – the Ensign, the Friend and Family Circle.
67. We disagree on what to top our grapefruits with. Matt tops his gfruits with powdered sugar and Steff with salt. Neither of us is willing to even budge on this one. Matt is afraid the kids are going to learn their mother’s habits on this one and he doesn’t like it one bit. Can we get some input here? Any help is appreciated.
68. On a ski trip, Matt split his head open. He had his buddies put three stitches in his head with a sewing needle and thread.
69. Steff was a flight attendant for Sky West Airlines.
70. Matt’s daily commute is approx 90 miles.
71. We both own what we feel are ‘fat pants.’ When we wear these, we feel fat. Unfortunately, both our wardrobes dictate that we wear these pants more frequently than we’d prefer.
72. If you google “matt and steff”, our blog is the #1 listing. Sweet.
73. Our least favorite (ever) American Idol candidate was Constantine. We call him Constantinople. He was creepy.
74. Matt and Steff hung out with Jack Johnson at Deer Valley. Before Matt knew Steff, he spent time with Sting, Gwen Stefani, and the Samples.
75. We love to BBQ. Salmon, halibut and steak are among the favorites.
76. Steff’s parents are just finishing an LDS mission on temple square. Matt’s parents were just called to serve in Nauvoo.
77. We want to buy a cow, or at least half of one. Haven’t seemed to get our hands on one quite yet, but not for a lack of trying.
78. Matt’s family ranges from Russia to Utah. Steff’s family ranges from Wisconsin to Washington. Family reunions are difficult to arrange on both sides.
79. “Gee, I'm real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.” - Better Off Dead
80. Our garage looks like a tornado hit it. It’s full of crud that is totally useless.
81. Matt likes to sing along to songs, but unfortunately (for those around mostly) is tone deaf.
82. Steff grinds her own wheat to make bread.
83. Our favorite restaurant is Tepanyaki.
84. Matt was the personal assistant for the Icelandic Winter Olympic team in ’02. He still keeps in touch with some of his contacts there.
85. We went on our first ever cruise in ’07. Matt ate more than is healthy.
86. Our favorite shows are Biggest Loser, The Office, 24, Lost, American Idol, Prison Break and The Apprentice. Steff watches Good Things Utah. That’s all we watch (as if that isn’t a ton already).
87. If we have a girl next, we like the names Louise and Muriel. No, this is not an announcement. Also, these are subject to change.
88. There was a hostage situation with the SWAT team in our first apartment. We moved out shortly after that.
89. Steff mows the lawn more often than Matt does. Is a lawn mower an acceptable Mother’s Day present?
90. Matt snores.
91. Steff kicks him when he snores.
92. Steff tans, Matt burns.
93.We dig Craigslist. We’ve both received and given from the site.
94. Our favorite holiday is Christmas. I think its because of all the traditions.
95. "I pledge allegiance... to the band... of Mr. Schneebly... and will not fight him... for creative control... and will defer to him on all issues related to the musical direction of the band." – School of Rock
96. We were both raised on real butter. One of the reasons we got along so well when dating. We may skimp and save on a lot of things, but selling out for margarine over real butter isn’t one of them. Thank you Moms.
97. Since we’re on the topic, Matt spreads butter over saltine crackers as a snack. It grosses Steff out.
98. We were the 6th house built in our development.
99. Our first Christmas’s budget for buying each other gifts was $20 a piece. Then we lost the family bowling competition and had to buy ice cream for all the siblings and spouses. Let’s just say we got to ponder the true meaning of the holiday’s that year.
100. Matt is perpetually cold and Steff is always hot.
101. T or F – Steff kissed Matt first.
102. Matt is an avid dart player.
103. Our favorite Queen song is Bohemian Rhapsody.
104. Matt loves seafood. Steff doesn’t.
105. We wanted 6 kids, but found out in some cases one kid can count for five.
106. “Just tell them that their wildest dreams will come true if they vote for you.” -Napoleon Dynamite
107. We get our news from CNN.
108. Matt’s bosses told him he could pick his title. All his work emails are labeled with the title, Super-Duper Staffing Consultant. Very few people catch it.
109. The initials of all the companies Matt has worked for since graduating college are CPRGPATAS. That spells PACT GRASP, which probably means something very important. If Matt was smarter he could figure it out.
110. This is hard. We don’t recommend anyone mimicking this post.
111. Just found the meaning of our kid’s names – Winston – joyful stone & Charlie – one who thinks farts are the funniest things ever. I guess we should’ve looked closer before we plunged into that one, eh?