Friday, December 31, 2010

It takes a village...

There are some stores that you go into knowing you will make completely unnecessary purchases.  Brookstone, for example, or Papyrus.  For me, that store is Williams-Sonoma.  Yes, I know I can get similar cooking items from Homegoods or Macy's.  And yes, I know this store is outrageously expensive.  But every time (especially when aided and abetted by my mom) I walk into that store I end up purchasing sometime I absolutely don't need.  And this Christmas Eve was no exception.

I bought a village bunt pan.

What is a village bunt pan you ask?  I'll tell you.  It is a mold that makes small, Christmas village-type houses out of cake.

When would one use something like this?  Well, when one was making a Christmas village cake of course!  (So, like, once).

Don't judge me!  These houses were awesome.  After I made them I stood back and stared.  Did I really just make those?  They're beautiful.  Of course next came the inevitable problem.  I slaved all Christmas Day making this cake, put it down on the table, and as we all stared at it said, "Nope, sorry.  We can't eat this today.  Too pretty."  Luckily there was an incredible back-up key lime pie.

We finally ate it (or some of it, anyway) and the village crumbled and died.  I put away the pan for next year, when I may or may not make village bunts again.  Probably not.  Hey, at least I didn't buy the Star Wars pancake molds!  No matter how big my Williams-Sonoma delusion, I know deep in my soul I don't need a Millennium Falcon shaped pancake in my life.

Now I will admit to also purchasing the Brown Sugar Bunt cake mix from WS as well, which I used to make the houses.  But the cake and frosting are all my own.  And yes, I did make the cake chocolate because it was the dirt underneath the white frosting (or snow) of the village.  Ok, you can judge me now.  And I made a tree.

My Village Cake
You'll need:
A Williams and Sonoma Village pan.  Seriously.  There's no way around this unless you are the Cake Boss.
A rectangular or circular cake 9" or larger pan with vertical sides (large enough to fit all the houses, you can test this before you bake)
Parchment paper
Brown Sugar Bunt mix (interchangeable with a different mix or your own recipe, but I recommend bunt mixes for their ability to maintain a shape)
Either a ziplock bag or a pastry bag with decorating tips
Lots of Pam
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
2 sticks butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half and half
Green food coloring
Sugar ice cream cones
Candy for decorating (I choose red and white MandMs and snowmen peeps)

For the dirt (cake):
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking pan.  Place a long rectangular strip of parchment paper along pan so it comes out both sides.  This will be it much easier to lift the cake out of the pan when frosting later. 
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake 45to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to platter using parchment lifts. Cool completely.
For the snow (frosting):
  1. Combine butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, half and half, and remaining vanilla in an electric mixer.  
  2. Beat until fully combined.  The measurements aren't precise, feel free to add more of any ingredient until you create a spreadable, creamy frosting with the right flavor.
For the houses:
  1. Prepare the bunt mix and preheat the oven according to instrutions.
  2. Liberally spray the pan with Pam.
  3. Evenly distribute the battle to each house well.
  4. Bake until toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
  5. Slice any extra cake from the tops of the wells so the bottoms of the houses are flat.  Upend and place houses on a platter to cool.
To decorate:

  1. Frost "ground" cake.   Place each house on top, and decorate houses as desired
  2. Pipe green food colored frosting onto cones and decorate with candy.  Place on cake.
  3. Once everything is decorated, sift powdered sugar over the top like snow.

What does this have to do with Going My Way?  Well Bing did love a White Christmas.  Also, he's big on families and neighborhoods in the movie.  Finally, I'm pretty sure one of those houses is a church.

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1 comment:

  1. you are insane. and i love you for it.