Almost two weeks ago, Capital Confectioners, along with several sponsors, put on a pretty amazing trade show and competition for baking and decorating enthusiasts at the That Takes The Cake Sugar Art Show and Cake Competition. I attended the event with my family, and we had a great time. All of us agree that our favorite part was looking at all the beautiful cakes that were on display and entered into the competitions, but there was a whole lot more going on than just looking at the beautiful cakes. There were classes and demonstrations going on throughout the show, there was a raffle for some amazing prizes, and there was the opportunity to taste and purchase some of the delicious wares as well as purchase all sorts of tools and items to help along in the baking and decorating process.
Ivonne S. sculpted this beautiful totem cake and entered it into the adult beginner scuplted category at the That Takes The Cake Sugar Art Show and Cake Competition. Ivonne is an Austinite who has a graphic design background and five years of experience using her artistic background to make cakes for her family. The That Takes The Cake Sugar Art Show and Cake Competition was her very first baking competition. Ivonne used a pound cake base and Wilton’s gel food coloring and a unique painting technique to create this beautiful cake. Not only did Ivonne work hard to create this cake and enter it into a competition, but she also took a couple of the classes offered at the show, including learning to paint poppies and feathers and model with chocolate.
Though I am an enthusiastic connoisseur of all things baked, I am not much of a baker. I have recently begun learning how to make bread, but when I make a cake or cookies, I generally do so from a box or tube. Considering my lack of baking prowess, I was super excited to learn about King Arthur Flour and all the extras they provide (besides high-quality flour).
King Arthur Flour was one of the sponsors of the show, and they sponsored the tasting competition, providing all sorts of lovely prizes for the winners of the various categories in the tasting competition.
I started researching King Arthur Flour when I began researching the show, and was given contact information for a very helpful employee named Julie. Julie was great to talk to and answered my many questions with a lot of enthusiasm and love for King Arthur Flour.
In talking with Julie, I learned that there are several characteristics about King Arthur Flour that set it apart from other flour mills/companies:
- King Arthur Flour is the oldest flour company in the U.S. and was established in 1790 in Boston, MA
- King Arthur Flour has the strictest milling specifications in the U.S.; they use only the part of the wheat kernel that is best for baking.
- King Arthur Flour mills only wheat grown in the U.S.
- King Arthur Flour is very involved in the community and offers the following opportunities:
- Life skills baking demonstrations that teach 4th thru 7th graders how to bake from scratch. The students take home flour, Red Star yeast, a scraper, and other supplies and make the bread at home. They then bring the bread they made back to school to donate to a social services program. King Arthur Flour also offers a program for home schoolers: they send a DVD and materials, and suggest that the home school students donate their bread to a social services program.
- Baking hotline
- Baking community where bakers can share and discuss recipes
- Bloggers who test recipes
- Classes at their Vermont headquarters
- Free traveling demonstrations
Personally, I have spent the last couple weeks playing around on King Arthur Flour’s web site every chance I get. I recently made the parmesan batter bread. Next up, I want to try one of the recipes for a traditional yeast bread (versus a batter bread), and I am just itching for a chance to use the baking hotline because it’s a concept I have needed for YEARS.
King Arthur Flour shares many, many recipes on their web site, and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one to share here. Since Ivonne used a pound cake base for her beautiful totem cake, here is one of their pound cake recipes.
At the heavy end of the butter cake spectrum is the pound cake, the original or “grandmother” of all butter cakes. This cake is incredibly rich, but fortunately, a very thin slice goes a long, long way.
2 cups (4 sticks) butter
2 to 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar8 extra large or 9 large eggs
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons brandy or sherry
2 teaspoons vanilla, almond or other flavoring
A traditional pound cake has no leavening other than air and eggs. Our recipe, while egg rich, has some baking powder in it as well to lighten it a little.
To lighten it even more, separate the eggs before you begin. After creaming the butter and adding the sugar, beat in just the egg yolks. Beat the whites separately until they form stiff peaks, and fold them in after all the other ingredients have been combined.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream the butter until very light. Add the sugar gradually and then the eggs, one by one, and continue beating until the mixture is very light and fluffy. (An electric mixer can be most helpful and effective here.)
When you cream butter, it may seem at the beginning as if you’re just mashing it flat. But if you persevere, you’ll begin to see it get “fluffy.” What you’re really doing is adding air. When you beat the butter with sugar, it becomes even fluffier, evidence of more air. And when the eggs are beaten in, the fluffiness is at its peak. That’s why this part of the mixing is so important. The more air bubbles you can beat in at this stage, the more air bubbles there are to expand in the heat of the oven. Baking powder or soda can do part of the work of leavening, but the more air bubbles you can get into a batter manually, the finer and lighter the texture of the finished cake.
In a separate bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Pour the milk into a third small bowl, mix the brandy and vanilla, or whatever flavoring you’re partial to.
Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Pour into a lightly greased tube pan, or two 5 x 9-inch bread pans, and bake for about 1 hour or until the top surface of the cake springs back when you press on it gently with your fingers.
Let the cake cool thoroughly after it is done, cover and store for a couple of days to allow the flavor to mature. A pound cake is usually sliced thin.
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King Arthur Flour has very generously offered the following items as a giveway for one lucky LiveMom reader: