I felt very privileged and honored when Tess J. of Tess J Photography asked me to bake some sweet treats for her studio opening. She and her partner in life and professionally, Andrew Houser of Houser Fine Art, opened a new studio in the Dana Warp Mill to do shoots and had some of their fabulous work on display. I've done two boudoir shoots with Tess, an engagement shoot, and she and Houser did our wedding photos. They continue to amaze me with their work. Check out Tess' sites:
http://www.tessjphotography.com/ (mostly boudoir photos)
http://www.weddings.tessjphotography.com/ (yeah that me!!)
http://www.houserfineart.com/ (artsy nudity warning)
http://www.houserphotography.com/ (landscape photography)
In my opinion these are the two best photographers in the state of Maine.
For the studio opening I made vanilla cupcakes with my "fluffy cupcake frosting" and brownies. I had been using a Magnolia Bakery knock off recipe and decided that it wasn't THE ONE. My birthday is next month and I had been looking for a birthday cake recipe. I found this one on the Williams Sonoma site. THIS IS THE ONE! Moist but it stays together with a lighter crumb. I adore these vanilla cupcakes.
I have also found that this brownie recipe is THE ONE! I'm completely in love with these. Called On the Fence Brownies because they are a little fudgy, a little chewy, a little cakey. They will satisfy every brownie desire. I've received great compliments on these.
Though my week was quite terrible, perhaps the worst of the year, we had a great time at the opening.
And I came home with this print for our redecorated bathroom.
Williams Sonoma Birthday Cake
Yield: 2 9 inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes
Source: Williams Sonoma
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups milk
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Grease 2 round cake pans with butter.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added. Turn off the mixer, add about one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Pour in 2/3 cup of the milk and beat just until blended. Repeat, adding about one-third of the flour, the remaining 2/3 cup milk and then the rest of the flour, beating after each addition just until blended.
Pour half of the batter into one prepared pan and the other half into the second pan. Using the rubber spatula, spread the batter evenly and smooth the top. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.
On the Fence Brownies
Yield: 2 dozen brownies
Source: King Arthur Flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth; then add the flour, chips, espresso powder, and nuts, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake the brownies in a preheated 350°F oven for 28 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center (barely). Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.