Life Lately…

A lot has happened this past month and I’d thought I would share what’s been going on with life! So beginning of this month, I got laid off. I won’t say a lot about it – but it was totally unexpected and i really just miss my co workers and working with my best friend Kari every day. It’s weird not having a job.  I’ve had a job ever since I was 16 years old and if I got a new job, I would literally have that weekend off and then start the new job on Monday.  My life has been go go go since I was 16.  I started college 6 DAYS after my high school graduation. I worked 2 jobs while I was at BYU and the day after BYU graduation I moved to NYC to start an internship! I’m not trying to brag or anything, all i’m trying to say is that I’ve never really had a break.

So when I got laid off – Yeah, I cried a little and then went home and Steven was there to comfort me and he just said “well now you have this time to figure out what you want to do next.” & in my mind – I’m like “omg there’s no steady income coming in, you’re still in school, how are we gonna live!?!?” Luckily, we have savings and we are totally fine. But it was so weird not having a regular routine. Every day would be the same – wake up, gym, breakfast, go to work, come home, cook dinner, hang out with Steven, sleep. I even had certain times where I would drink my water!! haha

Anyways – with all the time I had, I started baking more cakes and practicing different techniques, learning how to frost and finally started my own cake insta – @lizzies_bakery! I’m still a way amateur baker / I’m super shy still because there are way more awesome bakers that I follow on my personal instagram! But the thing with cakes and why I love them so much is that I can make something from scratch and decorate it how I want or combine different flavors together and it will be something so delicious! and you know me – I LOVE SWEETS. On my spare time, I would always just be on Pinterest or YouTube reading cake blogs and learning new things that I wanted to actually do. At first it started out as a hobby and now I am actually making a little money off of this little business! So if you need a cake for weddings, birthdays, showers, or a holiday party let me know!!

Being laid off is definitely a trial for me – but I know that Heavenly Father knows that I can do hard things and I know that i can do hard things and overcome these unexpected obstacles that come my way. I also know that blessings come when you are trying to do the right thing – Steven’s cousin Rachel needed a nanny part-time until graduation, which is perfect timing because then I still have time to make cakes in the morning! It also keeps me busy instead of just lounging around in the apartment on social media. Also baby time with Buffy who is the cutest and such a good baby.

If you’re still reading this – here are mine & Steven’s plans for the summer. Since my work said I could go to London and now that I don’t work there anymore our plans had to change. Since there’s no point to stay in Provo and keep paying rent – we are moving at the end of April after Steven’s graduation to Carlsbad, CA and living in Steven’s parent’s home by the beach! We’ll be there till May and middle of June and travel to Europe for 2 1/2-3 weeks and then I’ll drop Steven off in London so he can attend his Oxford University Study abroad! While Steven is on his study abroad, I’ll be in Vegas for a little while and then maybe visit my Dad who just moved to Florida – we will see! But then in August – we have NO CLUE where we’ll be!! So Stay tuned!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson IMG_1669

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Sweet Potato (Casserole) CAKE

Hi! So last Saturday I went to my good friend Kenzie Carlston’s bridal shower. At her bridal shower, I tried this AMAZING cake that her sister Courtney made.  Her sister Courtney has a blog on all of her cakes that she makes (go check it out) – here. Kenzie said it was one of her favorite cakes of Courtney’s.  It’s basically a sweet potato casserole in cake form. There’s sweet potatoes in the cake, with crystallized ginger, marshmallow frosting in the middle & a brown sugar buttercream frosting on the outside. I knew i had to try making it because it was SO GOOD.

So after making my almond cake last week, I knew I wanted to get back into baking because I LOVE baking cakes. I told myself that I needed to make one cake a week.  (who knows if that will happen, but I’m going to try!!)

I bought some new things on Amazon that I needed for the recipe – like Crystallized Ginger and a flour sifter (I caved and bought one and totally worth it cuz it makes your cake so much more moist & soft)

As I was making this cake… everything was turning out great.  The cake = perfect, the marshmallow frosting = perfect.. But then I got to the brown sugar buttercream frosting and it was SO RUNNY. I put it in the freezer to get it more stiff, but it was NOT working.  A couple in our ward invited us to dinner and I was like “oh i’ll bring the cake” and the dinner is literally starting in like 2 min as I type so I needed to just frost this cake! It turned out more like a naked cake than a full-frosted buttercream cake.  I still don’t know what I did wrong.. I probably cooked the brown sugar and egg whites too long? IDK.

So this recipe is from Cake by Courtney, you can check it out here. The original recipe that she got it from is right here. Obviously I’m still an amateur at this cake thing, but I love what I’m doing!! & it still tastes yummy. Enjoy! (recipe below)

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LOL on the food photography (google told me to do this!!)

IMG_1308Yield: 8-inch, 4-layer cake

Ingredients

For the Sweet Potato Cake
3 large sweet potatoes (about 900 g)
2 cups (400 g) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (315 ml) sunflower oil (or vegetable, safflower, canola oil)
2 cups (230 g) cake flour
1 tablespoon (7 g) ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
1 teaspoon (3 g) nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) ground ginger
2 tablespoons (30 ml) brandy or dark rum (optional – I didn’t use it, but you could also use a imitation flavor)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (120 g) crystallized ginger, chopped

For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling
16 large white marshmallows
1 cup (125 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup (227 g / 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 jar (about 200 g) marshmallow cream/fluff

For the Brown Sugar Frosting
5 large egg whites (150 g)
1 1/4 cups (250 g) light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (340 g/ 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
a few pinches of cinnamon, to taste

For the Candied Pecans (I didn’t make these, I just used some Cinnamon Almonds that I had)
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (24 g) brown sugar
1 cup (100g) pecan pieces

Instructions

For the Sweet Potato Cake
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess and set aside.
2. Place the sweet potatoes on a microwave safe plate and pierce them with a fork. Microwave until they are tender (about 7-8 minutes each side). Carefully, remove the skin when cool enough to touch and mash the flesh into a coarse puree.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the cooled sweet potato puree and mix until combined.
4. Sift dry ingredients together (cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and ground ginger) and then add to sweet potato mixture.
5. Mix in brand/dark rum (if using) and vanilla. Gently stir in crystallized ginger.
6. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about two inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (mine took 45 minutes).
7. Let pans cool on wire rack 10 minutes, invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.

For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling
1. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, about 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them, they burn quickly).
2. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about one minute. Add vanilla and mix on medium-high speed for about three minutes.
3. Add marshmallow cream and (cooled) toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about one minute.

For the Brown Sugar Frosting
1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with a paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
2. With the whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). Don’t begin to add the butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, not warm at all.
3. Switch over to the paddle attachment and, with the mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if it curdles, keep mixing and it will come back.) If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for 15-30 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add cinnamon to taste and blend.

For the Candied Pecans
1. Melt the butter in small pan. Mix in brown sugar, and add the pecans. Toss to coat.
2. Cook on medium low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch carefully so they don’t burn.
3. Turn out onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and let cool for five minutes, break apart into smaller pieces if using halves.

Assembly
1. Slice both cake layers in half horizontally, so you have four cake layers.
2. Place the first layer on a place, pedestal or cake board cut side up (s0 bottom of the cake layer is touching the plate), and spread about 3/4 cup of the toasted marshmallow filling with a small offset palette knife, leaving 1″ or so around the edge. Sprinkle with a handful of candied pecan pieces.
3. Repeat previous steps until you get to the final cake layer. Place last layer face cake down and chill cake for 30-40 minutes.
4. Frost cake with buttercream and top with a generous handful of candied pecans and crystallized ginger.
5. Finished cake can be kept at room temperature for up to eight hours. Keep refrigerated if longer than 8 hours, but always serve at room temperature (Swiss Buttercream should never be served cold, as it goes back to a cold butter texture).

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

Almond Cake

Hi hi hi!!!! So I decided last week that I want to get back to baking cakes. In the summer, I baked cakes for my bridal shower, my friends bridal shower & for holidays! But, then I had this feeling where I wasn’t good enough compared to the other professional bakers I see on Instagram.  Obviously, I’m not a professional baker but I put my baking tools down and stopped baking cakes until now. As I’m looking at cake recipes to bake, I wonder why am I making these cakes and whose going to eat them?! Now I just don’t care anymore and I’m going to bake whatever I want and when I want for more practice! & if you want to eat my cakes just call me and come over hahaha

Anyways, I’ve been looking at this cake recipe from Molly Yeh since Valentine’s Day and I decided to make her Valentine’s cake that she makesevery year.  I know it’s not Valentine’s anymore and that’s why I titled this “Almond Cake” cuz it’s literally a full blown almond cake.  Steven’s grandma called and we are celebrating Steven’s niece’s birthday tonight so I was like “perfect, this is for Cambri!”

Last night I baked the cakes & today after church I made the whipped topping. This is how it turned out –

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Sorry for all of the photos and I wish I had a prettier background haha! I had a lot of fun making this cake and it was actually quite easy to make.  I used a new ingredient i haven’t used before and that’s almond paste – super yummy and it makes the whole house smell like sweet almond flavor!

Here’s the recipe from this blogger Molly Yeh – let me know if you make this cake!

italian almond cake

10-12 servings
ingredients

cake:

1/2 c flour*

1 tsp baking powder

8 oz almond paste

6 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

1/2 c sugar

topping:

1 1/2 c whipping cream

1/2 c powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract + a few drops of red food coloring or 2 tb creme de almond liqueur

chocolate hearts, marzipan hearts, any other decorations you’d like (or if you were me, find old heart lollipops from Valentine’s Day hahaha)

clues

preheat oven to 350ºf. prepare two 8- or 9-inch or three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

beat almond paste and egg yolks until well blended, mix in vanilla and almond extract, and set aside.

in a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then gradually fold in the flour mixture. pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean.

let cool.

for the topping, whip up the whipping cream and add the almond extract and red food coloring or the liqueur.

decorate to your heart’s desire (heh, no pun…) and enjoy!!!!

UPDATE: After cutting the cake up the whip cream frosting was too weak to hold it up Hahahaha  

 
XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson