About Heather Physioc of 52 Cakes HeatherPhysioc

Heather is an advertising professional in Kansas City. She is a vegetarian food-lover who finds joy in cooking, baking and finding new restaurants in new cities. She leads a pack of animals, including her beagle Ford, her shepherd-collie-retriever mix, Otto, and cat, Ahab.

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Cake 10: “Cake Wrecks” Gingerbread Cake

Three points I want to address:

  1. The 52 Cakes Project. I can’t believe it’s the tenth week of this project. That’s kind of a milestone, right? Ten straight weeks and I haven’t missed one. I am almost at 20% completion of this goal. There has been lots of offline discussion as to what to do with the Fifty-Two Cakes website after the year is up.Some have suggested 52 cookies, 52 cupcakes, 52 other desserts. You tell me! What would you like to see?
  2. Cake Wrecks. Are you familiar with the blog CakeWrecks, a website dedicated to horrendous and hilarious cake fails? Well the challenge I drew out of the hat this week was to create a CakeWrecks cake. Meaning I have to purposely make this thing either hideous, botched or politically incorrect. Tougher than it sounds. After brainstorming with my hubby, I opted for the not quite politically correct option but it had to be clean enough for the office, which brings us to the Drunken Gingerbread Man.
  3. Gingerbread. The challenge had nothing to do with flavor this week – it had everything to do with design, so I got to choose the flavor. Mom-in-law suggested gingerbread for the flavor. I like gingerbread, and it reminds me of fall, which I love. And we all know from last week’s post just how much I love fall!

All right, on to the cake:

Gingerbread Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 2 large room temperature beaten eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 0.25 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Softened butter for greasing the pan
  • White frosting with narrow straight-line tip applicator

Gingerbread Cake Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9″x13″ rectangular baking pan and put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. In one bowl, mix the vegetable oil, sugar, molasses and crystallized ginger. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk together until the mixture is completely smooth. In a second bowl, mix the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt and ground cloves. Mix the two together until it is a well-blended batter. In a saucepan, bring the cup of water to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in your baking soda. Pour into the batter and mix together until they are blended, but do not overmix. Pour into your baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until your toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack, then turn out onto your decorating or serving tray to cool completely. I refrigerated mine overnight.

Drunk Gingerbread Man Decoration Instructions

First, I had to cut out a gingerbread man shape. Much like the monster chocolate cake with coconut cream frosting in week 1, I drew out the gingerbread man shape on waxed paper, then cut it out to create a stencil of sorts. Using a sharp knife I cut slowly around the stencil to get the gingerbread man shape, and cleaned the knife often to keep the cut as clean as possible. Yeah, but guess what, I’m terrible with a knife and there’s no such thing as a clean cut into gingerbread. I wish that I had a gingerbread man cake pan, but I really can’t justify that expense. I squished the outside edges down a little bit to keep it cohesive. I used the cut-out bits to make the alcohol bottles around him. I took a tube of white icing with a narrow tip to create the “X” eyes, his drunk mouth, the traditional gingerbread man buttons and sleeves, his loosened necktie, and of course the empty alcohol bottles. There was lots of debate in the office as to whether the one on the left was a wine bottle, a dreidel or a middle finger. True to CakeWrecks form!

Cake 9: Red Velvet Cheesecake

The red velvet cheesecake was my most ambitious cake adventure yet. The baking itself was not intimidating, as I have made both cheesecakes and red velvet desserts before. The part that was most challenging for me was the assembly of the red velvet cheesecake as it requires cutting into layers and multiple days of baking and chilling and some decoration and so on. I got a few new baking arsenal supplies this week from Wilton – cooling racks, a frosting spatula, frosting decorating kit and parchment paper. This is the perfect opportunity to put all of them to good use. (“What is red velvet cake?” you ask? It’s just red cake. Seriously.)

New York Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 0.25 cups cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 0.5 cup heavy cream

New York Cheesecake Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place another cake pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Wrap the bottom of two 9-inch round springform pans with aluminum foil, and fold the excess up over the edges to keep excess cake batter from spilling into your nice, clean oven. (I only have one springform pan, so I mixed and baked one half of the cheesecake per night.) Spray the bottom and sides. In a large bowl, mix room temperature cream cheese for a few minutes until it is smooth. Add the sugar and cornstarch and beat again until smooth. Add the vanilla, eggs and egg whites (two at a time) and beat the mixture until it is creamy. Slowly add the heavy cream and beat just until the lumps are gone and the filling is light and fluffy. Pour the batter split evenly into the two pans and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes Do not open and close the pan, as that could cause cracks. Just eyeball it through the oven door to see if it’s done – it should be puffy around the edges and the center should be a little gelatinous. Cool on a wire rack at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Run a knife around the edges, then refrigerate the cheesecake overnight – at least eight hours. Before releasing the springform pan sides, run a knife around it again. Peel the foil away from the cheesecake layers and prepare to layer with your red velvet cake!

Red Velvet Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • 0.75 cup buttermilk
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 0.75 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring

Red Velvet Cake Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together your buttermilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, blend flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In another bowl (or I used my handy KitchenAid wedding present from the best husband ever) cream the sugar and oil together. Add each egg, one at a time and whisk it in completely. Add the vinegar and food coloring. Mix in half the dry ingredient combo, then half the liquid ingredient combo. Scrape the bowl, then repeat with the last half of both the dry and liquid ingredient mixtures. Blend until batter is smooth and not lumpy. Pour the red velvet cake batter into your greased round baking pans Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out dry when inserted at a center point. Cool the cakes for about 15 minutes, loosen, then remove them from the pans to cool completely. When the cake is completely cooled, use a cake leveler (or unflavored floss, or whatever) to slice the cake as evenly as possible into two layers. Freeze the two cake layers overnight.

Buttercream Frosting Recipe Ingredients

  • 0.5 cup shortening
  • 0.5 cup room temperature butter
  • 2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water (or as much as you need to get the right texture)

Buttercream Frosting Recipe Directions

Cream together the shortening, butter and marshmallow fluff, then add the vanilla extract and beat it until it is light and fluffy Add the powdered sugar about a half cup at a time. Add the water just a little bit at a time until the frosting is super-spreadable and smooth, not lumpy.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Assembly & Decoration Instructions

Place one of the red velvet cake layers on your serving dish. Spread a small dab of frosting on the layer. Add one of the cheesecake layers. Spread a small dab of frosting on the layer. Repeat with the next red velvet cake and cheesecake layer. Chill the cake. Take about 1 cup of the buttercream frosting and put it in a decorator’s bag with a decorative tip, and set aside. Using the rest of the frosting, ice the red velvet cheesecake and smooth the top and sides. Go slowly so you don’t tear up your beautiful cake and get red crumbs and whatnot in your beautiful frosting job. Once this is done, use your decorator’s bag to add a border, flowers, whatever you want Make it pretty, because you worked damn hard to get it this far and you want it to be go-o-orgeous and make people say “wow.”

(And they damn well better. This cake is a beast to make!)

Chill till it’s serve time, yo.

Cake 8: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Goodness I love Autumn! Crisp, cool, smells nice, great for bike rides. And I do love pumpkin! I can’t stand pumpkin pie, but I love pumpkin cake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread and pumpkin beer. My challenge this week was to make something flourless or gluten-free, so I thought I would incorporate the deliciousness of fall as it is cooling down here with the gluten-free challenge for our gluten-allergy/celiac friends here at the office. This one is pretty easy and straightforward to make, and it is nice to accommodate our gluten-free friends once in a while! Even flourless folks deserve tasty desserts. 😉

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake Ingredients

  • 1 stick (0.5-cup) softened butter
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.25 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.75 cups gluten-free flour mix w/ xantham gum in it
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioner’s/powdered sugar

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake Recipe Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together softened butter, sugar, eggs and mashed pumpkin. Mix the gluten-free flour mix with xantham gum, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a separate bowl. Beat half of the dry ingredient mixture into your batter (I use my wonderful KitchenAid from my husband for this), then beat in the water. Beat in the remaining dry ingredient mixture completely. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until your toothpick inserted in a dense point comes out dry. I used a funky flower-like cake pan I found in my cabinet that I have been looking for an excuse to use forever. Cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Directions

Blend together the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl over until it is thick, gooey and creamy. Drizzle over your cooled gluten-free pumpkin cake. To get the look I did, I poured all the cream cheese frosting right in the middle of the cake and used a spatula to spread it out to each flower petal.

Cake 7: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

One thing I did this time around was bake the cake on Tuesday, ice/decorate/top on Wednesday. I did this at the suggestion of my wonderful mother-in-law, Dawn, who you met when we made the angel food cake with fruit and yogurt. This will hopefully help me offset the patience and planning issues that have thwarted my cakes in the past.

Also, for this cake I used marshmallow fluff instead of marshmallows, as I am a vegetarian and whole marshmallows contain gelatin (derived from collagen found in animal skin and bones). However, marshmallow fluff is free of gelatin and vegetarian-friendly! The catch is that it is difficult to spread onto the cake for the last few minutes of baking without tearing up your cake, unlike the regular marshmallows which you can just pour on top. In the case of marshmallow fluff, just be careful, use a wide spatula, and slooooowly spread it on there.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 0.5 cup butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.25 teaspoon baking soda
  • 0.25 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 0.5 cup cinnamon applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Approx. 4 ounces of marshmallow fluff

Chocolate Marshmallow Glaze Ingredients

  • 0.5 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Approx. 3-4 ounces of marshmallow fluff
  • 0.25 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Cake Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First, melt the butter and the unsweetened chocolate in the microwave and stir them together until smooth and creamy. Let the chocolate mixture cool for about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. In another large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, applesauce and vanilla. (I used my new KitchenAid from my husband for this – yay!) Stir in the chocolate mixture. Gradually add the dry ingredients mixture and mix well with each addition. Pour into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until your toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry (you know the drill). Slowly and carefully, so as not to tear up your cake, spread about 4 ounces of your marshmallow fluff onto the cake and bake for just a couple more minutes.

Chocolate Marshmallow Glaze Directions

While the cake is cooling, this is the perfect time to create the chocolate marshmallow glaze. Combine sugar, milk and butter in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil for about one minute. Remove the liquid from the heat, and stir in the chocolate chips and the rest of the marshmallow fluff. Drizzle your chocolate marshmallow glaze over the cake, and it should harden as it cools.

I served this one right out of the pan, as I don’t have a serving dish big enough to safely turn out a huge 9″x13″ cake without completely obliterating it. Sorry it’s not fancy folks, as it just looks like a regular sheet cake, but I think it’s the taste that counts, no?

Cake 6: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake #6 is a traditional carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting. This cake was one of the most moist and delicious cakes I’ve made to date.

I made this cake for a very special reason – because it is my “wedding cake.” My now-husband, Luke, is pictured helping me with this cake. He is a soldier in the U.S. Army, preparing for his fourth deployment – this time to Afghanistan. We did a small courthouse wedding this week, though we plan to have our full-size wedding with our family and friends when he returns. We choose carrot cake because it was in Austin during the SXSW festival, on the coldest day of our trip, that we decided to be a couple while holding a carrot cake cupcake in the middle of the street. Also, carrot cake was his parents’ wedding cake flavor – very fitting, as they have been married 32 years!

Notice that I have a new addition to my kitchen – that beautiful KitchenAid that allows my batter to mix while I drink a tasty ice cold beer and read my favorite foodie magazine – Vegetarian Times. Best. Wedding. Present. Ever. Thank you, hubster!


Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1.25 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 0.5-cup softened butter
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Recipe Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. In a large bowl (or using your handy KitchenAid) beat together 4 eggs, vegetable oil, white sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Shred your carrots either using a grater (or I used my CuisinArt food processor “grind” setting) and stir the carrots into the batter. Add the pecans. Pour into your greased pans, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for a while, then turn out onto your cooling rack or other cooling surface to finish cooling. (If anyone feels like helping an aspiring baker out, I could use some nice cooling racks!) To make the frosting – in a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, softened cream cheese, powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, and vanilla. Beat it until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir in your chopped pecans. Frost each layer of the cake, then ENJOY.

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