Archive for the Category ◊ Cakes & Cupcakes ◊

21 Aug 2011 Lemon Layer Cake

I haven’t been doing too much cooking lately.  It’s been too hectic.  My beloved “empty nest” imploded.  My two youngest moved back home for the summer, and brought with them all their stuff, most of it unwashed and unsorted. One of them brought a living and breathing human house guest for the summer, and had other friends stay with us for upwards of a week, too.  The other one had frequent overnight guests, four or five a week.  Then my elder daughter, her son and boyfriend moved in for a week, out for a week, then back for three weeks, then finally they moved into the house seven houses down.  They drop in at least twice a day, dropping off and picking up my grandson.  Borrowing my mixer.  Picking up some boxes they left in the garage.  Checking out the contents of the refrigerator. Then our house guest left. Then my younger daughter left, too.  She went to Ghana.  Yes, Ghana, Africa.  Not all her stuff fit into the two suitcases she was allowed to take.  She packed 93.7 lbs of stuff into those two suitcases.  She left her other ton of belongings here, unwashed and unsorted. Tomorrow my son moves out and into an apartment with three other boys, four hours from here.  He was going to go today, but not all his laundry is done.  All of his laundry may never be done.  He’s taking most of his stuff with him.  And a lot of my stuff, too.  Plus I’ve been trying to teach him how to cook before he goes. I can’t have him starving to death or trying to survive on convenience foods…

So, cooking for me has been down low on my list, but cookbook club sent out an e-vite.  It was time for a “Signature Cake” meeting.  I had to start cooking, and it had to be good, and it was probably going to have to be a little bit complicated.  A “Signature Cake”,  as I see it, is show-y cake,  one that we might become known for (remembered for?!), a special cake our family and friends might look forward to–even ask for–on birthdays and occasions; a from scratch layer cake, with a filling, and a frosting.  I had seen the recipe for “Lemon Layer Cake” in several America’s Test Kitchen magazines (YES, several!  Did you know ATK cycles their recipes through various publications?  I didn’t either, but I have this recipe in two magazines, and neither one of them is a “Best of…”!  I was a little surprised-and yes,  disappointed- to discover this little secret.)

Anyway, after being soooo busy and not cooking, I suddenly had to jump into creating a “Signature Cake” and the one I chose really was a bit of a project.  But it’s worth it!  It looks spectacular.  Look!

The white cake is delicious, very tender, not overly sweet, and sturdy enough to support the lemon filling without compressing. The lemon filling has a perfect texture, with a spot-on, bright and tangy lemon flavor.  The frosting is a “seven minute” or boiled frosting, which I had never made before, but I fell in love with it’s marshmallow-y creaminess which was a wonderful foil to the tangy lemon filling.  (I also loved the fact that the frosting had no butter and no powdered sugar.) I will definately be making this cake again. But I’d have a plan.  I’d do it in three parts.  Day one, make the lemon filling.  Day two, bake the cakes.  Day of party, make the frosting and assemble the cake.

A few other hints:

First thing, before you get everything else ready, cut 1 cube of butter into 1/2 inch pieces, and put in the freezer.  You will need to use these frozen butter cubes in the lemon filling.

I was tempted to grate the rind of a few lemons to add to the lemon filling.  I am so glad I didn’t.  The lemon filling was tangy enough as it was.  I think adding lemon rind would have ruined it.

Don’t be afraid of the frosting. You’ll need an instant read thermometer, a double boiler, and an electric mixer…but it’s really pretty easy to make (and it’s fat free and yummy!)

I frosted this cake the night before it was to be served, I don’t think that was a good idea.  The frosting seemed to loose a bit of it’s volume.  I think you could layer the cake with the lemon filling the night before, cover with plastic wrap (or a cake dome) and refrigerate, but I think the frosting needs to be made, and applied to the cake, just a few hours before the cake is to be served.

Lemon Layer Cake

America‘s Test Kitchen

For the filling:

1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons) (you’ll need an additional 1T. of lemon juice for the frosting)

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (less than one package, so measure out a teaspoonful)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon table salt

4 large eggs

6 large egg yolks (reserve all of the egg whites for the cake)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

For the cake:

2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

6 large egg whites, at room temperature (leftover from making the filling from the six egg yolks)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened but still cool

Fluffy White Icing

2 large egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)

1 tablespoon corn syrup

Begin by Preparing the Filling: Measure 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top to soften.

Heat the rest of the lemon juice, the sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot but not bubbling. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks until blended. Slowly whisk the lemon syrup into the eggs, then return the mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer  Stir in the softened gelatin until completely dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the frozen butter until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. If desired/necessary, pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a non-reactive bowl (I skipped this step). Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least four hours or up to two days. Stir mixture to loosen before spreading on cake layers.

To Make the Cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg whites and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt at low speed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter pieces one at a time until the mixture resembles fine, even crumbs. Stop the mixer and add all but about 1/2 cup of the wet ingredients. Beat the batter at medium speed until it is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the rest of the wet ingredients, then crank the speed back up to medium and beat for 30 seconds more. Scrape down the bowl and beat for 30 more seconds.

Divide the batter equally among the two cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean–do not overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans, peel off the parchment and cool completely, right side up.

When the filling has chilled and the cake layers are cool, begin assembling the cake. Slice the cake layers in half horizontally. Place one layer golden side down on a serving platter, and tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the edges of the cake to protect the platter. Spread a third of the lemon filling on the cake layer, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat twice more with cake layers and filling. Place the top layer of the cake golden side up.

To Make the Icing: Combine all ingredients in bowl of standing mixer or large heatproof bowl and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and transfer mixture to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Using icing spatula, spread frosting on cake. Serve.

Notes From ATK… Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator, with the cut side of the cake covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. I am glad I was home and cooking.  I hope you make this cake for an upcoming special occasion. It’s worth the effort…and you may become “famous” for it!

Polly

13 Jul 2011 Butterbeer Cupcakes

Harry Potter.  My 20 year old twins have tickets to the midnight show.  Of course they do.  They were in second grade when I read the first book to them. We stood in line at midnight for the fifth book to be released. After Book Two we had to buy multiple copies of each because no one (myself and their older sister included) could possibly wait for someone else to finish the book before they could start it. They’ve both read all seven books at least three times.  Yes, that’s right.  They’ve both read ALL seven books at least three times.  We have some books on ten disk CD sets.  They listen to them when driving home from college. They saw all seven movies on the day they were released. We own all the DVDs. Tomorrow’s movie premier:  Book Seven, part Two is the end.  The end of everything.  The last Harry Potter movie signals the end of their childhood just as much as their high school graduation, their high school prom, and their first nights in their college dorms rooms did.

My daughter is running a Harry Potter marathon tonight.  She’s  set up the Three Broomsticks Tavern.  Tonight’s specials: Butterbeer cupcakes and Cockroach Clusters (chocolate covered pretzel clusters sprinkled with powdered sugar) and Butterbeer Floats (cream soda with butter pecan ice cream).

These cupcakes are delicious; a from scratch cupcake, a filling, a frosting, and a drizzle!  To die for.  Oops. A double entendre.

I found the recipe at AmyBites, as have a good many other people!  Thanks, Amy!  I left out the artificial butter flavoring, and I should probably say to reduce the ganache by half.  Abby had a lot left over…, but I think it will be a good drizzle for that leftover butter pecan ice cream 🙂

Butterbeer Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

For the ganache (for the filling and the drizzle):

1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream
.

For the buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until well-combined, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in vanilla. Add one third of flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and stir to incorporate.  Add half of the buttermilk and half of the cream soda and mix to combine. Add half of remaining flour mixture, mix well.  Add remaining buttermilk and cream soda, mix well.  Stir in remaining flour mixture.

Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

For butterscotch filling: In a double boiler (heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow.

For buttercream frosting: Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in cooled ganache, vanilla, and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream by the Tablespoon as needed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch ganache.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  These are very, very good cupcakes, even if you are not into Harry Potter or Butterbeer 🙂  If you are into Harry Potter, you have to make them.  To mark and to celebrate the end of and era.  A very, very good era.

17 Jun 2011 Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

I made a cake last night.  No special reason.  The stars just aligned.

  • My daughter took my car, so I was stuck at home, alone, all night.
  • There was nothing on TV (is there ever?).
  • There was a “Cook’s” magazine under the TV remote.
  • There was a recipe for a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (one of my favorites), in the “Cook’s” magazine.
  • I have to make a  “Signature Cakes”, for the August Cookbook Club meeting.  (A “Signature Cake” is a showcase cake, appropriate for any celebration, that is so good people might start asking for it on their birthdays and such. )
  • A little “Signature Cake” practice wouldn’t hurt, and was probably needed.
  • I had just bought fancy-schmancy 9-inch layer cake pans at a hoity-toity gourmet store for 70% off.  Time to put them to the test!
  • I had all the ingredients on hand.

Who doesn’t like yellow cake with chocolate frosting?  It’s a classic!  The little editorial near the recipe on page 51 of the Spring 2011 edition of “Cook’s” said everything I want to say about Cake Mixes…chemical emulsifiers and leavening agents…monoglycerides and diglycerides….hydrogenated fats….artificial food coloring.  How about a good yellow cake without all that? This recipe delivers, and it’s moist and fluffy, too.  The taste? It HAS taste!  In my experience, cake mixes turn out cakes high on texture and color  with little taste other than that of sweet, overly-sweet.

The frosting spreads like a dream, and is rich, smooth, and will knock the socks off anyone who likes chocolate (who doesn’t like chocolate?).  The frosting is made with only 1 cup of powdered sugar (as opposed to the usual four cups), and is made with a food processor, not a mixer (a first for me).  Just a note though, this recipe results in a soft, creamy frosting (kind of like the canned stuff–but again, with TASTE…and none of that thick oily texture); so, if you are wanting a harder, fudge-type frosting, this is not the right recipe.

I am not sure this cake is fancy enough for my Cookbook Club….but it’s fancy enough for every other occasion.  I just may have found a “go-to” cake for many occasions.  It’s relatively easy to pull together, calls for no ultra-fancy ingredients, each layer is high and moist, and then there’s that creamy real milk chocolate frosting…

Yellow Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 oz.) cake flour (I did use cake flour, and not all-purpose)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 3/4 cup (12 1/4 oz.) sugar (divided use)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used salted, it’s all I had), melted and slightly cooled
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (if you bought a whole carton, freeze the leftovers until you are ready to make another cake)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites (make a Pavlova or meringue cookies with the leftover egg whites), at room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans with 2 inch sides.  Spray with Pam for Baking, or butter and flour.  Line with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Set aside.
  4. In another bowl combine melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg yolks. Set aside.
  5. Place room temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat eggs until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over over egg whites.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form but beaten egg whites still look moist, about 60 seconds.
  6. Remove the egg whites from the mixer bowl to another bowl and set aside.
  7. In the now empty mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment pour in the flour mixture.  Turn mixer on low.  Gradually pour in the liquid ingredients and mix on low for about 15 seconds.  Stop and scrape bowl.  Mix again for another 15-30 seconds or until cake mixture is smooth and creamy.  Remove bowl f rom mixer.
  8. With a rubber spatula fold in 1/3 of the egg whites.  When those egg whites have been incorporated add remaining egg whites.  Gently fold in egg whites until no white streaks remain.
  9. Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Now , one at a time, life the pan off the counter, and gently let it drop back down–to remove air bubbles from the batter.  Five light taps for each pan will do the trick.
  10. Bake cakes in preheated 350 degree oven for 22 – 30 minutes or until cake starts to pull away from sides of pan, and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.
  11. Cool cakes in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto wire rack and cool for an additional hour or hour and a half before frosting.
  12. Unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for two days, or can be frozen for up to one month.  Thaw layers completely before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (20 tablespoons), soft, but not runny (again, I used salted, it’s all I had on hand)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz. good quality milk chocolate (I used Hershey Symphony Bars), melted and cooled slightly
  1. In a food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping once or twice to scrape down sides of bowl.
  2. Add corn syrup and vanilla to the mixture in the food processor and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse until smooth and creamy, another 10 – 15 seconds.
  3. Frosting can be made up to 3 hours in advance.  For longer storage, cover and refrigerate then let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
  4. For other cakes, this frosting can be made with dark or semi-sweet  or bittersweet chocolate.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. I hope you find an reason to make this cake.  Once you make it, I think you’ll make it again and again and again.  For other recipes, click on the “In The Kitchen With Polly” logo on the top left hand side of this webpage.  Let me know what appeals to you and what you make. I love reading your comments.

Polly

 

23 Feb 2011 Champagne Cupcakes

My daughter recently catered a birthday dinner for a very bubbly, champagne loving girl.  She knew Champagne Cupcakes had to be on the menu!  The good news is that these are great cupcakes not only for a birthday dinner, but for an Oscar party, too! Aren’t we all going to an Oscar party on Sunday?? They’re also good for many other champagne worthy events:  Birthday Party, Engagement Party, Shower, Wedding, New Year’s Eve, Promotion, Retirement, Bon Voyage, Welcome Home, Mortgage Burning, Mortgage Acquisition,  Crowning of Miss America… 🙂

This recipe makes a very light and not-so-sweet cupcake.  The champagne flavor really comes through if you brush champagne on the cakes before adding the frosting. This was my daughter Hannah’s idea, it’s not in the original recipe.  She also added more champagne to the frosting (tut-tut-tut, says Mom…)!  The original recipe called for coloring, but not being a food coloring fan, Hannah omitted it.  “In retrospect”, she said, “it would have been nice to have a slightly pink colored frosting.  After all, I did use pink champagne!”

Champagne Cupcakes

For Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup pink champagne, plus extra (approx ½ cup) for brushing onto baked cupcakes (I used Chandon Rose)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 4-5 drops red food coloring (optional)

For Frosting

  • 1 1lb box powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup pink champagne
  • 3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • candy pearls (I found these in the cake decorating section of the grocery store)

To Make Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat eggs whites with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Set aside. (If you have only one bowl for your electric mixer, you will have to remove the egg whites to another bowl).
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer,  cream the 2/3 cup butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Slowly mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.  Add in ½ of the champagne, beat until combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing until fully incorporated, then add the remaining ½ cup of champagne, beating until combined. Beat in the remaining flour mixture and the food coloring, mixing until combined.
  6. Gently fold in 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the cake batter and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in remaining egg white mixture until combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the muffin tins, filling each cupcake liner 1/2 to 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on wire rack.
  9. Once cupcakes have cooled, poke 8-10 holes in each cupcake using a toothpick. Using a pastry brush, coat each cupcake with champagne.

To Make Frosting

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and champagne.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and food coloring, mixing well until the frosting is smooth. (If too stiff add more champagne, if too runny add more powdered sugar.)
  3. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip (or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off), and decorate cupcakes.
  4. Top with candy pearls.

Makes: 24 cupcakes.  Keeps well for a day or two.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today!  And thank you to my daughter, Hannah, for testing this recipe and sharing the cupcakes with me.  Guess what I am taking to my Oscar Night Party?  Yep!  If you’d like to take these to a special event, but don’t have time to make them, contact  Hannah, she is a fledgling caterer, you know!

30 Jan 2011 Drunken Monkey Cake

Drunken Monkey Cake: my third cake from “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray.  The directions were bothersome again, but I (mostly) made it as directed the first time.  This resulted in a cake that was too “moist” (probably too many bananas) but the cake showed promise, so I committed to rebaking it.

The first thing to go was the showy process of flaming the cherries in rum.  The directions specified boiling dried cherries in ¾ cup water, then pouring ¾ cup rum over the cherries, and lighting the whole thing on fire.  Being English, I know a few things about lighting things on fire.  I’ve had flaming Christmas Pudding every Christmas and New Year’s Day of my life.  The flames are for show.  Why do I want to flame the cherries?  Who’s watching?  I boiled the cherries in the water, added the rum, and set the mixture aside. I know better than to burn up my rum.

The second big problem with the recipe was the ingredient list which called for “5 or 6 very ripe bananas”.  Come again?  How much banana? Small, medium or large bananas?  I had four small and two large bananas, so that’s what I used.  Not good.  The cake was way too moist.  Even with 20 minutes extra baking, it was still too “moist”.   Stop the madness!  Specify in cups or by weight how much mashed banana to use!  For the rebake I did a little research.  One banana should equal 1/3 to ½ cup of mashed pulp, a bit more helpful, but still an issue.  With “5 or 6 very ripe bananas” I was now dealing with 1 ½ cups, 1 2/3 cups, 2 cups, or 3 cups of mashed banana!  The higher quantity being double the lower quantity!  Isn’t this maddening?  Recipes directions should be written to ensure success. If I follow a recipe I should get a good result,  without having to do additional research or recipe reworking. The second Drunken Monkey cake was baked with 2 cups of mashed banana (which was 4 medium bananas).  Still too much banana.  1 2/3 cup of mashed banana is probably just about right.

The next issue with the recipe was to drain the drunken cherries, and to pour the thickened liquid into the bananas.  Once again, how much liquid was I to expect from the cherries.  What if I didn’t have enough, what if I had too much?  The amount of liquid is not so critical in a sauce, but for a cake it makes a big difference.  So with my second rebake, I changed the way of plumping the cherries, and measured the liquid before I added it to the bananas.  By this time I had also run out of rum, so I had to switch to brandy!  Now I know both rum and brandy taste fine!  Start soaking the fruit the night before baking the cake.

The next change I made to the recipe was to substitute chocolate chips for the nuts (think frozen, drunken, chocolate covered bananas!).  I don’t like nuts, so this was a good option for me, but if I were a nut lover, I think nuts would be awesome in this cake, with or without the addition of chocolate.

The picture above reflects all the changes I made.  Now there is one more issue, I had a piece for breakfast…, hic.  Maybe there was a point to burning off the rum…

Drunken Monkey Cake with Chocolate

Adapted from “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray

  • 2 cups dried cherries (recipe did not specify what kind of dried cherries.  I used tart dried cherries)
  • 1 cup dark rum (brandy works, too)
  • 1 2/3 cups mashed very ripe banana (approx. 3 or 4 medium/large bananas)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips
  1. The night before baking this cake, or early the morning of, pour the rum over the dried cherries, stir, and set aside to plump.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mash the bananas and measure 1 2/3 cup of pulp to use in the cake.
  4. Drain the rum from the cherries.  You should have approx 3 tablespoons of rum.  Stir this drained rum into the mashed bananas and set aside.
  5. Line the bottom of a 10 inch tube pan with parchment paper, then spray with Pam or spread with butter. (There is too much batter for a normal 12-cup bundt pan.  If you use a bundt pan, don’t line with parchment paper, but use Baker’s Joy! or Pam to well grease the pan–and you’ll probably have enough batter left over to also make 4 or 6 muffins.  Adjust baking times accordingly.)
  6. In a medium bowl combine the white and wheat flours, the salt, and the baking soda and set aside.
  7. With an electric mixer Beat the butter for a minute or so.  Then add in the white and brown sugars and beat for an additional 4 minutes.
  8. Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  9. Stir banana mixture into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla.
  10. Slowly add the flour mixture to the banana batter.
  11. Stir the drained cherries, nuts and/or chocolate chips into the batter.
  12. Pour batter into prepared pan and place into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for approx 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean and sides start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  13. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then loosen sides and turn out to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes a lot of cake; depending on how you slice it, you’ll probably have 16-20 slices.  Call the neighbors! Just one warning…, no, two warnings.  It’s probably best not to serve this cake for breakfast! Hic. Hic.  This is definitely not a good cake for children.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, you drunken monkey, you… hic!

29 Jan 2011 Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been in a funk all week.  I made two more cakes from that book I was all aglow about last weekend.  I’m no longer glowing.

First off, I wanted to make the Red Velvet cake; the picture looked so great, and it was front and center on the cover, so I had high hopes.  The recipe was a bit odd though.  Red Velvet cake is supposed to have three things: 1) a very, very light chocolate taste 2) a very bright red color and 3) a pronounced tang from the addition of buttermilk and vinegar.  This cake was good on point one.  The recipe called for ¼ cup of cocoa powder, which is good.  I have seen some recipes for as little as 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.  I wanted some chocolate taste in the cake!  The recipe also hit a high note on the red color.  The color in the picture looked good, and recipe only called for one tablespoon of red food coloring.  I have seen some recipes call for as much as three tablespoonsful!  My first hint of trouble was with point three, no buttermilk and no vinegar!  The recipe called for sour cream, but I was still going to go with it, thinking the sour cream would have enough tang.

Once I started making the cake, the trouble began.  First, the directions called for “a food processor”.  Um no.  The directions then said, ” Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed”.  Not a food processor, a mixer.  Bad mistake. THEN, the directions called for two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, but the pictures of the cake-both on the cover, and next to the recipe-were of a three layer cake.  Uh-oh.  Having only two matching 8-inch cake pans, and two matching 9-inch cake pans, not three matching of either size, I decided to bake the cake in the  9-inch layer pans thinking the recipe probably meant to three 8-inch pans or two 9-inch pans.  I thought wrong.  I had too much batter for two 9-inch pans.  The pans were this close to overflowing.  The cakes baked up huge, and domed.  I am pretty sure the cake needed to be baked in three 9-inch pans.  Not sure how many 8-inch pans.  How could there be two such glaring mistakes on one recipe, especially in a book based on recipes that had been tested and that explicitly stated (and the specific reason I bought this book) that recipes with problems had been “rebaked” until they were right?

BUT, after baking, the cake looked good, but a bit crisp on the outside (probably due to over-baking because each pan held too much batter) and seriously domed.  Never mind, I thought.  I can fix it.  I trimmed off the over-browned sides of the cakes, and cut off the domed tops.  The cakes stacked nicely together.  Firm enough for a stable two layer cake, I thought.  I wasn’t overwhelmed when I tasted the discarded domed top, but I thought that was because the cake was still a bit warm from the oven, and didn’t have frosting on yet.

I mixed up the frosting for the cake.  It went on lovely and I spread it on thickly, but I definitely had enough left over for a third layer! Nevertheless, I though the cake was beautiful.  Look at the picture! I was all excited to kick off my Valentine’s Day marathon chocolate posts with this cake…, until I tasted it.  The frosting was to die for, but the cake was No Big Whoop, in fact, it was a Bad Whoop.   The light chocolate taste was good, and there was a bit of a tang, but it wasn’t a good tang.  The cake just wasn’t good. The color was red, but with a bad tasting cake, it made things worse.  I tested the cake on twelve of my favorite testers, my Dining For Women group. Most said the cake was OK, but nobody wanted me to make it again.  Everyone would prefer a chocolate cake, or a yellow cake, or a lemon cake or a carrot cake or a coconut cake.  No one wanted any more Red Velvet cake. The next morning I tasted the cake again, and I knew it was all over.  It just was not a good tasting cake.  Remember the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake in “Steel  Magnolias”?  Did you want a piece? This cake tasted as bad as that cake looked!  It was a tragedy.

I did get three requests for the Cream Cheese Frosting though. The frosting I will make again.  So the frosting recipe I will share.  I hope you have a good cake recipe to use it on!

Cream Cheese Frosting

From “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7 ½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Makes enough frosting to decorate a three layer cake.

I served the Red Velvet cake, with another one made from the same book .  More problems with the recipe but well worth a rebake.  Version Two of the Drunken Monkey cake is sitting on my counter right now.  A definite improvement over Version One in looks. Taste testing tomorrow.  I sure hope it is good enough to post. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!