Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 Layer Gluten Free Cake

I saw a recipe for a 12 layer cake that looked amazing. I had been thinking about it for weeks, and since today is Edgar's birthday, I went ahead and adapted the recipe and instructions to create a gluten free, ten layer version.

I have not officially mentioned it, but I am starting a new, full time job next week, and there will not be time for making cakes like this- so while the kids are in school and during my only real week of leisure, I cranked this one out.

I took tons of photos because I wanted to show how mind blowing this cake looks- and relatively easy it is to make. In the grand scheme of things, start to finish, it did not take much more time than a traditional birthday cake.

You will need, 10 round foil baking pans- these were in a package of three for $1.44 at Wal-Mart and if rinsed with hot soap and water, can be re-used every time you are asked to bring this cake to a party. And you will be asked. Other supplies include a sharpie marker, parchment paper, cooking spray and a cardboard cake round about an inch bigger than the pans. I cut one from a box in the garage using my sharpie and the foil pan as a guide.

First, trace the bottom of the cake pan onto a sheet of parchment paper using a sharpie. Cut the template and then use it over 9 layers of parchment paper to make 10 circles that will line the insides of the foil pans.

Spray the pans generously with the cooking spray, place one paper liner on the bottom, and spray again. Making ten layers and having them stick is a real drag, so be liberal with the spray and there will be no worries.

After prepping the pans, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust the rack toward the center and if you have two rows, use the middle two for baking multiple cakes at once.

Ingredients for Cake:

2 sticks of butter at room temp
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
2 boxes Gluten Free Yellow Cake mix
1 cup water

Mix eggs and butter on low speed until creamy, then gradually

add the cake mix, water and extracts to form a batter. I could not find my 2/3 cup, so this is how I decided to roll, I filled a one up about 2/3 full. You can do what you have to do.

Pour and use a spatula to get 2/3 cup batter into the center of the parchment paper lined pan. Smooth from the center to make it as even as possible all the way around. Repeat until all pans are filled. Bake for 12 minutes and cool on the counter.

While the layers are baking, make the middle frosting. This is like a gooey chocolate syrup that thickens as it cools, so do not be alarmed if it seems thin, you will be pouring and spreading it in between all the layers.

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process dark cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Add all ingredients (except vanilla) to a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for two minutes while stirring and remove from heat and let stand in the pan for a few minutes to thicken a bit.
Transfer to a pyrex to make pouring it over the layers easier.

Place the cardboard round on top of a wire rack, with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drips. Begin adding the first layer of cake and pour the warm chocolate frosting onto the center. Use the back of a spoon to spread it to the edges.

Add another layer and repeat, making sure the stacks of cake have enough filling to ooze out from the edges and drip down. After all ten layers are assembled, pour additional chocolate over the top and make sure the edges are sealed with the chocolate. The cake should look like thiswhen you stick it in the fridge to firm up and set completely.

While the cake is setting, I made a chocolate-cream cheese frosting for the final decorating touch to the cake. I like the appearance to be more like a regular cake so when you cut into it, the surprise is all the yummy, moist layers of cake.

Exterior frosting

2 sticks of butter at room temp
8 ounces cream cheese at room temp
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together on medium speed until fluffy and smooth.
Chill until this frosting becomes a little bit more firm. Spread evenly onto layer cake and cover all the surfaces using a spatula.
Lift the cardboard round onto a cake stand and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Cut into wedges and watch your guests freak out.

Here is the cut to the chase proof

of the 10 layer success. My kids went cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo crazy for this cake. Edgar
was pretty impressed too, and no one had any notion that this was a gluten free cake. The secret is the moist frosting and thin layers covered in chocolate. Yes, this was a bit more labor intensive than making a two layer cake, but it was totally worth it.

Start to finish it was about an hour, and then time for the final frosting. Since the layers only bake for 12 minutes, it really went quickly. Do not be intimidated to try this one, it looks difficult but is just a few steps without the need for frosting roses and red dye accents.

Next time, I will use some strawberries to cover up the cardboard edge along the cake stand to purdy it up even more. Now, I must brag about this one on facebook. It is late at night and I am sure these photos will cause cravings nation wide.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kindergarten, Take Two with My Three

Kindergarten started today. Hallelujah, Amen, Amen.

Everything I learned about kindergarten last year, has carried over. I am ready. I have no fear of take two with my three.

I took our mandatory photos in front of the van. I know every family has their own set of rituals for the first day back to school photo opps, and I always shoot in front of our current car. I love looking back at vintage photographs that have cars in them. I always marvel at the fashion and the automobiles, so this is a no brainer for me. Besides, we will be driving this Toyota Sienna until the wheels fall off, so it is likely that these kids will be posing along side it until high school graduation.

In which case, I will be able to reflect back on how tall they were in relation to the license plate and rust spots. Oy Vey.

The triplets went to preschool with Li'elle. Now they are reunited again in Kindergarten, and it is like old times. Jeff and I adore her parents and if you recall, Li'elle is/was Eli's first love. I wonder how they will get along after all this time? Check out this group photo- my triplets, Li'elle and her first cousin (their dads are brothers)and a set of twins. Triplets, Twins and First Cousins all in the same class. How cool is that?

The kids saw some of their friends from last year. They understood that their former classmates are in fact, first graders now. Eli told me that even though Maya is in first grade now,he still plans to marry her. Clearly, there is no stigma in repeating kindergarten for these guys.

When it was time for the parents to walk the kids into their classrooms, Natalie gave me the stiff arm. She said, "Ummmm, Mom, we got this!" Obviously, I was an embarrassment to her, and I needed to keep my distance because she was an experienced kindergarten student. She did not need me to coddle her. So I didn't. I took this one last photoin the parking lot, and I tried not to leave skid marks with my van as I peeled out of there.

Instead of lolly gagging about the kindergarten classroom shedding tears,(been there, done that) I zoomed over to Starbucks and grabbed two coffees to go. I had a Mommie play date with Maya's mom and their 15 month old triplets. We sat in the playroom sipping coffee, gabbing about the kids, and it was so relaxing. So what did I do when I drop my triplets off at school? I go and borrow some more triplets for a few hours.

My fun continued when I met up with my triplet mom partners in crime. We had lunch, and compared notes on all the classroom/teacher/multiples drama.I used Lisa as my shield to appear thinner in this photo- a blonde bombshell diversion is good for hiding a multitude of figure flaws in photos. I highly recommend it- she's better than spanx. No one else like this photo because of the angle, but as I sheltered myself with Lisa, I was okay with it.

Before I could blink my eyes, it was pick up time. I hustled back to the school to make it for early release. The triplets could not wait to tell me all about their first day. CJ had an awesome behavior report from his teacher, and she was proud of his choice to stay focused. Natalie said, "You are not going to believe this, but my senior buddy is an expert at giving piggy back rides." When I pressed her further about the quality of her day, Natalie said, "It was wonderful!"

I have a very good feeling about this second year of kindergarten. I think that take two with my three is going to prove to be a good thing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Official End of Summer

Most people mark Labor Day Weekend as the official end of the summer. I chose to observe a different calendar marker: SCHOOL. Once school starts, summer is over.

As I type this post, the backpacks are by the garage door, the clothes are ready for morning, and my camera battery is on the charger because, tomorrow morning is the first day of school, making today, the last day of summer.

In order to celebrate the last day of summer time fun, I pumped and hooked up this new outside water toy.

I only bought it because it was on the 75% summer clearance at CVS, and I had a $5 extra buck that pretty much paid for it. The kids were thrilled to run around the yard getting sprayed with hose water. Natalie was telling the boys, "Mommie only bought us this because it was on sale and we had a coupon, so Daddy won't be mad!"

They played, the yard got watered and you can see that most of the grass that Jeff poisoned earlier in the summer, is growing back. Good times, good times.

Summer 2011 and Camp Helene are finished. I can't say I am too sad. Once school begins, I will be back in business. Literally.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Apple Picking Year After Year

We have made it a Slutsky family tradition to pick apples in September. This year, the apples are ahead of schedule and like every year since the triplets were 11 months old, we went picking.

As further proof that I was a raving lunatic back in Fall of 2006, here is a photo of me,the double stroller and baby bjorn. The family one row over took the picture and gave me the standard, "Boy, you've got your hands full remark!" I picked apples, the babies were just there for the fresh air, stimulation and photo opportunity. I am sure they enjoyed the scenery. It was the start of our apple picking tradition. Little did I know I would get pregnant a month later.

In Fall of 2007, Charlotte was a few months oldand I bungeed corded her car seat carrier into the choo choo wagon because I was bound and determined to get the apples picked. Just because I had 22 month old triplets and a newborn you could not stop me from being outdoors on a crisp fall morning. This was the first year the triplets could eat the merchandise, and they perfected the art of sampling.

We brought Argenida with us the following year and in 2008 she discovered what apple trees look like in person. When we drove into the orchard she thought the apple trees were fake props to entice you, as a visual display. When I explained that those were the real trees, with real fruit, she was in complete awe.

The kids on the other hand, were put to work picking and running around to release energy in the comfort of the wide open space. This was already starting to get fun for them.

I always enjoy taking them all with me to Lynd's Fruit Farm, because it is one of those educational, nutritional, economical field trips that exhausts them, if done properly. The photos never show me suggesting they run all the way up the hill, and back, 25 times. I began this additional tradition here in 2009when I needed to come home with amazing fruit, and tired children. In order to watch any OSU buckeye football, I needed four kids that would nap. Those were the days.

When Rosh Hashana and the Jewish New Year holiday fall around apple picking season, I am sure to capture a decent group photo for our family greeting cards.
Here in 2010, I coordinated their outfits to the template and scrapbooking card stock because I am insane. Seriously, does anyone else do that?

Now, we are current and caught up to this morning.

Who are these grown up kids? Wasn't it just a few days ago that they were safely contained in a wagon or stroller? Good lord, now they are practically professional apple pickers. We filled two, 16 pound sacks full of Gala Apples in less than ten minutes. Apple picking is getting expensive now that the entertainment value is reduced to such a short period of field time. Of course they still sample as they work, which makes it so much fun, even still.

Every time we go out to the orchard it is a trip down memory lane for me. I still imagine my helpers needing direction and constant supervision. I have to step back, watch them going through the motions and realize, they are getting older, but this is one family tradition that never gets old.

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