I was greeted at the door by two little hands splayed on the glass screen, smile wide, and loose curls falling from her head. Her mother was soon to follow and I was led through the house to a quaint and lovely backyard, where I would take the photos of Taylor - a sweet, adorable 2-year-old with big brown eyes and a bright smile! What commenced felt more like play time with Mom and Dad than a photo shoot, I just happened to have my camera ;)
She was so easy to photograph with her frequent giggles and smiling glances at her parents :)
Looking back over the past 2 years or so of blogging, I realized that I rarely (if ever) talked about our church, or for that matter, my faith. Now, I'm not going to use this post to be an evangelical. Nor am I going to use it to try to bring ya' to the Lord. But, I will say this: My savior, Jesus, has given me more grace and love than I could ever hope for, and certainly more than I deserve.
Our church, Ecclesia, has been such a vital part of Scott and I's life here in Houston. Ecclesia, or "Church" (referring to the Christian community at large, not a building) in Greek, embraces its name, living among and working within this large community that is Houston, and loves her well.
These photos were taken at our church service last Sunday, held at our new location in the NE side of downtown. Our backyard is the large green patch that lies under the intersection of I-45 and I-10. The weather and the atmosphere made for some great shots!
For all of the photos below, I used my Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens. Enjoy!
This cake has eight, dense layers (thin layers, mind you). Chocolate powdered sugar frosting and crushed Reese's candy are spread in between each layer. Then, crushed Reese's candy is sprinkled on top of the cake.
Are your eyes wide? Are you drooling?
You should be ;)
My husband requested this cake for his birthday this year, and my momma has so graciously made it for him for the past 3 years. BUT, since Scott likes this cake so much, I figured it was time that I learn how to make this delicate, delicious treat. And face my lack of patience for fear of baking an eight layer cake. Momma supervised, of coarse ;)
If you are interested in the unique history of certain baked goods (e.g. Friendship bread), then I will provide a brief history of where this cake began in the next paragraph. If you, however, are more like me and prefer just looking at the photos, then I encourage you to skip the next paragraph and keep drooling over the photos... The choice is yours :)
HISTORY (according to Wikipedia):
This cake originated on Smith Island, located off the southern tip of Maryland, in 1657. It began as a mere measly four layer cake. Until women got competitive. THEN, the layers got higher... and higher... and higher as a form a "friendly" competition. The Smith Island Cake became the official cake of the state of Maryland in 2008. Does anyone know what the official cake of Texas is...?
And now for what you want. The recipe! The version of the cake that my momma and I made is from Saveur magazine.
What you need:
14 regular sized Reese's cups, frozen
1 18 1/4 ounce box yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines Classic Yellow is what I used, and what Saveur magazine recommended)
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
What to do (for the cake):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour four 8" round cake pans. To ensure that the cakes won't stick, place a disc of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
In a food processor, pulse 6 of the Reese's cups into small chunks, as seen on the top of the cake. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until use.
Pulse the remaining Reese's cups into a fine powder, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until use.
Put cake mix, 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk, half the butter, vanilla, salt, eggs, and 1/3 cup of water into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
Divide half the batter between the four pans and set the remaining batter aside.
Using the back of a rubber spatula, spread out the batter so that it covers the bottom of each pan, making it slightly thicker around the edges than in the middle.
Bake until cooked through and golden around the edges, 8-10 minutes.
Set aside to cool slightly, then loosen the cake layers with a knife and invert onto cooling racks.
**This next step is annoying, but necessary**
Wash and dry the cake pans. I know. You're thinking, seriously..., but it's a must. Unless you want to own 8 8" cake pans.
Grease and flour the cake pans again, fill with remaining batter, bake for 8-10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks.
When the 8 layers have cooled, make the icing.
What to do (for the frosting):
Combine remaining milk, sugar, and cocoa in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
Stir well, then add remaining butter.
Cook, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and icing is shiny, about 4-5 minutes.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes. The icing will still be slightly warm when you spread it on the cake. If you let it cool too much, it will harden and not spread well.
Place first layer on a cake stand and spread 1/4 cup of icing on the layer, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the fine Reese's crumbs.
Top with another layer and repeat process for each layer.
Frost outside of the cake with remaining icing and sprinkle the top of the cake with the chunks of Reese's.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.
* Note: the frosting is supposed to look "droopy" :) *