Posts Tagged 'Cake'

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting

The last two times we’ve gone skiing in Vermont, my non-skiing wife insisted that we take at least one day and go exploring.  For us, exploring consists of visiting cheese makers, ice cream makers, a brewery, and, of course, maple syrup producers.  It was an interesting experience visiting several different producers, trying the different grades, and then tasting the differences between different areas and producers.  Similar to wine, the terroir makes a difference.

After our last trip, we come home laden with more maple syrup, even though we had an unfinished bottle in the fridge from our previous trip.  With so much maple syrup in our house, when I first read the title of this recipe in Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make it.

I made it when we had planned to have several guests.  Instead, only Alison decided to join us.  So that meant a lot of cake for me to eat for breakfast and lunch during the week, even after we sent Alison home with some of the leftovers.

Surprisingly, given the article that this recipe was part of, this is not a typical cake.  It’s sweetness is muted.  The cake itself is subdued in flavor while the icing provides a good counterpoint with the dark maple flavor and the tangyness of the cream cheese.

This isn’t a particularly difficult recipe but I did have problems getting the maple syrup to mix with the butter and shortening in a smooth fashion.  I beat it until the fat particles were relatively small and, in the end, I don’t think it made much of a difference.  The original recipe calls for walnuts in the cake and in the frosting, but I omitted them because of Angela’s preferences.

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2010

Cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking power
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
2 tbsp vegetable shortening, softened
2 cups Grade B maple syrup
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/4 cups whole milk

Frosting:
8-oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp Grade B maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. Butter and flour two 8″ cake pans.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until creamy and fluffy.
  5. Add the maple syrup and beat until the mixture is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the egg yolks and the egg one at a time, pausing until the mixture is well combined before adding the next one.
  7. Beat in the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the milk.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  9. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then remove from the cake pans.
  11. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and maple syrup and beat until just combined.
  12. Make a layer cake, by icing the cake with the frosting.

Serves 10.

Devil’s Food Cake

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When I was younger, there was a period of time where I was convinced I didn’t like cake. Sure, on my birthday, I’d have a birthday cake. I’d eat a piece because that’s what you do and it’s polite. But it never was particularly good.

I blame box cake mixes for this. Box cakes are always too dry and the canned icing is always too sweet. But my real problem with cake mixes is that they really don’t save that much effort. So I don’t have to mix together the dry ingredients? That takes me all of 30 seconds. And I need to use oil instead of butter? And this makes it better?

Maybe I’m unusual in that I usually have all the proper ingredients for a cake at home (although I did have to delay making this by one day because we were out of eggs). Maybe a modicum of effort is too much for the average person.

I read that one possible explanation for the poor initial sales of cake mixes was that powdered eggs were included and that a house wife wanted to contribute to the cake by adding the eggs herself. I’m not sure if I buy that explanation (if you look at the time when sales of cake mixes increased it corresponds particularly well with an increase in women working).

Usually, when I want to make a dessert, I either want something a bit more sophisticated than cake (excepting chocolate chip cookies because they’re just good). But every once-in-awhile, I really get a craving cake. Not something extraordinarily chocolatey. Nor an ornate texture. Just something simple and good.

Enter Devil’s Food Cake. This cake was exactly what I wanted (and even the chocolate hater liked it). It wasn’t chocolate overload. It was sweet overload. It was just a simple chocolate cake with a simple chocolate icing. And it was just about perfect at what it was.

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Devil’s Food Cake
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

12 tbsp butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy, several minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
  4. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next egg.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour.
  6. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and pour half of the batter into each one. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool. Remove the cakes from the cake pans and add the icing.

Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp milk

  1. Using the medium power on the microwave, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl about 3/4 of the way.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and salt until the butter is fluffy.
  3. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and beat slowly until it is well blended.
  4. Add the vanilla and half of the milk and beat until fluffy.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well mixed.
  6. Add the remaining sugar and milk and beat until fluffy.
  7. Ice the cake immediately.

Cinnamon Pound Cake

Cinnamon Pound Cake

Angela has class on Tuesday nights which means I’m home alone (although I don’t have to fight a couple of bungling burglars with improvised comedic devices). My dinner on those nights is usually something Angela doesn’t like but I was feeling a bit lazy last night so just made a sandwich. I did, however, decide to make a surprise for her when she came home.

This recipe has been sitting on our refrigerator door for about 6 months now. We originally picked it up at Penzeys Spices on our first visit to their retail store. I made it last night because I wanted something for breakfast the next day and the recipe card proclaims “This cake is wonderful for dessert but even better for breakfast.” Cake for breakfast? How could I not be all over that? (Of course, I’ve never had cake for breakfast before; never).

In regards to Penzeys, on that first visit I decided to buy cinnamon sticks because freshly grated cinnamon has to make food better, doesn’t it? I’m really not sure if food is better with freshly grated cinnamon, but I do know that it’s a pain to grate a full tablespoon of cinnamon. Here I was looking for any easy surprise to bake for my wife and instead I spend 15 minutes microplaning a cinnamon stick. Of course I decided to do this after I started mixing the cake ingredients. Mis-en-what?

I found some of the typesetting of this recipe to be a bit odd. In the ingredients list, the word cups was capitalized for no particular reason. Also, PURE VANILLA EXTRACT, CINNAMON SUGAR, and CINNAMON were in all-caps. I’m assuming it’s because Penzeys sells products by those names but why not do what every other brand does and specify your brand there (are they fooling anyone?). The way it looks, they’re just yelling at me (that better be PURE VANILLA EXTRACT or else!). My final comment would be that it listed 3 teaspoons of baking powder instead of 1 tablespoon. I have no idea what the purpose of that would be (do many people have tablespoon measuring spoons that don’t fit into their baking powder jar? my oversized plastic ones do).

Cinnamon Pound Cake
Adapted from Penzeys One, volume 1 issue 3, originally by Scott and Jackie Nelson

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup milk
5 tbsp cinnamon sugar (or 1 tbsp cinnamon mixed with 4 tbsp sugar)

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Grease a loaf pan (the recipe wants you to use a tube pan which I’ve never heard of; it fits perfectly in a loaf pan plus that’s the shape every pound cake I’ve ever seen has been).
  3. Cream the butter.
  4. Add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder (the recipe specifies sifting but I cheated and just mixed them).
  6. Add half the flour to the butter mixture. Mix to combine.
  7. Add the milk to the butter mixture. Mix to combine.
  8. Add the remaining flour to the butter mixture. Mix to combine.
  9. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar on the bottom of the loaf pan.
  10. Add half of the batter to the loaf pan (really try for half; I failed and it was much closer to 3/4 than half but it still tasted good).
  11. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter in the loaf pan.
  12. Add the remaining batter to the loaf pan.
  13. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar on the top of the batter.
  14. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Servers 25 to 30 (or just 2, if you’re us)