Well, I finally got around to making a cake and this one is a winner. I don't usually have time to make cakes, mainly because I'm such a perfectionist that I'll spend hours making sure the icing is just right or the layers are perfectly aligned. After making this one I am reminded of another reason: cakes are dangerously addictive (I had a piece for breakfast every day that it was around our house). But I was also reminded of what a hit they are and how they are almost always well worth the effort they take to prepare.

This cake is honestly one of the best I've had in awhile (maybe ever). The layers kept their moisture even four days later, and the flavor on day four was just as incredible as day one. While the process is a bit time consuming, there is no part of this recipe that is overly challenging. The best part about that is that the appearance is so beautiful people will assume it either a) is professionally made or b) took considerably more effort than it actually did. 

I could go on for hours, but to sum it all up I'll just say that this cake is a must-try. Everyone loved it. I loved it. I miss it already. I wish I had a piece now. Would it be excessive to make this fancy of a cake twice within a week? 

Tuxedo Cake
Recipe from Annie's Eats

For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the chocolate topping:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line three 9-inch round cake pans (or two 10-inch round cake pans) with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend.  Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk.  Add the baking soda, salt and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack.  Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.
To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form.  Be careful not to over-beat!
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top.  Top with a second cake layer, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using).  Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake.  Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.  Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla.  Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes.  (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.)  Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour.  Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.

Once again, I have broken my camera. I really should not be allowed to have electronics. I like to say that I always get the duds, so of course they end up breaking, but truthfully, it's probably just me. I won't go into my long, unfortunate past with cameras, phones, computer issues, etc., but I honestly don't think I did anything wrong to cause this one to bite the dust. The others, maybe. I feel like every camera I get is just a "lens error" waiting to happen. Luckily, I've already solicited a few friends to loan me cameras until I save up to buy a new one. Hopefully I won't get too much more behind on posting in the meantime.

These cookies are incredibly easy to make (boxed cake mix), and I have never seen a cookie with this long of a shelf life. I used to eat them all the time when I was little, and found the recipe in a family friend's cookbook. It was originally from my grandma (if she reads this she'll be embarrassed that I'm calling a cake mix recipe an original), but somehow despite the simplicity of the recipe she still always managed to make them even better than mine turned out. I love the pecans with the yellow cake, and these are great because they are so small you can grab one or two and get your cookie fix. I'll salvage some new food pictures soon and post them as soon as I can!

Yellow Cake Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
(I have no idea what the real name is, so a descriptive name will have to do!)
Yield: 5 dozen

1 package yellow cake mix
2 cups quick cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cake mix, oats and sugar in a large bowl. Combine oil and eggs. Add to dry ingredients, stirring well. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Drop dough by small rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Is it odd that until a week ago I had never heard of or tried eclair cake (yes, those two need to be separated in my book because I have an awful memory)? I thought this was some new, brilliant concept, but after sharing the cake with friends I realized almost all of them had tried some form of eclair cake in their lives.

Well, basically now I know that this cake is still brilliant, but definitely not new. It's also incredibly easy to make. I think I've said that about pretty much all of my recent posts, but this is what happens when I don't have time to bake. The good news is, my birthday is Monday and I plan on making myself a dessert that's a bit more fancy. It's my 21st, so I'd say that's deserving of something good. Any suggestions?

For the eclair cake, I chose to make homemade chocolate icing instead of using store-bought . I didn't have any store-bought laying around anyways, so I figured mixing up a batch of this was just as easy. It was delicious. The graham crackers lose all of their crunch, but keep all of their flavor. What you end up with is a creamy, dreamy eclair-tasting cake. I wish I had taken prettier pictures, but as you can imagine eclair cake isn't the most photogenic of cakes. If you can stand to keep something this good in your fridge for 24 hours without touching it, you have to put this on your to-make list!

Chocolate Eclair Cake
Recipe from Baking Junkie

1 Box graham crackers (not all will be used)
2 large boxes (5.1 oz) vanilla instant pudding
2 ½ cups skim milk
16 oz reduced fat or fat free cool whip
1 container chocolate frosting

Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with graham crackers. You will need to break some up to fit the edges. In a medium sized bowl combine pudding, milk and cool whip. Spread half the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Cover with another layer of graham crackers, the remaining pudding mixture, and top with final layer of graham crackers. Remove aluminum top of frosting and place in microwave for 45-60 seconds, until it becomes melted and thin. Pour over top of cake. Refrigerate for 12 hours before serving.

Chocolate Frosting*
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2/3 c sugar
5 oz evaporated milk
dash salt
1 t vanilla
Melt butter w/ chocolate in sauce pan – add sugar then milk and salt. Boil for 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool a bit then pour over Eclair Cake.

*If you choose to sub out the store bought variety.

I know what you're thinking: this looks nothing like a breakfast pizza. You're right. It's more like a breakfast casserole the way I made it. I felt like I couldn't justify using 12 eggs for something I was just making on a whim, so I halved the recipe and used an 8x8 pan. I posted it anyways because in hindsight I'm not sure why those extra six eggs were so precious to me. So here is my first tip for the "pizza": make the full version. It wasn't really a problem that I made it smaller, but I also halved the bacon and I immediately decided that was a poor decision. I actually wouldn't have skimped on it, but I used the majority of my bacon stash for bacon chocolate chip cookies the night before.

But as for the breakfast pizza, I love how easily it came together. I have been reheating little squares of it for snacks here and there over the past few days. I'm used to grabbing a square of brownie or a cookie (healthy, right?), but it's a nice change of pace to actually have some real food to munch on. It's also good because I'm trying to wean myself off of the pizza sticks I wrote about a few weeks ago. I kept making them over and over again, and I think I was beginning to develop a slight addiction. One last tip is that I used mostly mozzarella for these because that's what I had on hand, but I think sharp cheddar is the most flavorful so that's probably your best bet. 

I promise this will be the last post from Southern Plate for a few weeks. I just can't get enough of her recipes. Nothing fancy, no hard to find ingredients, no completely unnecessary steps that you can't figure out how on earth make that much of a difference–she's just a true home cook. I love it. I promise you'll feel the same way if you take a look around her site.

Bacon Breakfast Pizza

Recipe from Southern Plate

  • 1- 8 count can crescent roll dough
  • 3 cups shredded hash browns (can used cubed)
  • dozen eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 6 slices bacon (more or less, depending on what you have on hand)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: Other toppings of your choice. Examples are: Onions, mushrooms, other meats, other vegetables, etc
Cook bacon and set aside. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Place crescent roll dough in the bottom of the pan, pinching seams together to seal. Spread frozen hash browns over dough. Salt and pepper to taste (I start with 1/2 tsp of each). Beat all eggs in a bowl and pour over hash browns. Sprinkle crumbled bacon over. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until set in center. Sprinkle cheese over top and return to oven just until melted. Serve warm.