Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cakes Cakes Cakes

Fall and baked goods just go hand in hand in my mind. The warm spice flavors and the brisk weather are a perfect match and I start adding cloves and or cinnamon to just about everything come October 1st, even though that's typically summer in San Francisco. So what if it's 76 degrees out? I want a pumpkin spice latte!!! (Not that you need to get yours at a worldwide chain; you can make them yourself too.) Apple cake, banana bread, and of course - oh yeah - my pumpkin spiced cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Mulled wine, apple cider. . . the list of fall treats just goes on endlessly.
Now that I am wracking my brain to create some delicious and perfect treat for my beloved Buzzie's bday dinner, I stumbled across some mind blowingly good sounding fall cakes thanks to the kitchn. I had been tossing around the idea of not trying to compete with her beloved Red Velvet (which I have never made, and me thinks now is not the time to try it out for the first time) and just doing a cheese course; perhaps using a wheel of cheese and decorating it to look like a cake (with goat cheese rosettes around the edges to act as frosting perhaps) when BAM. The Kitchn beats me to it (sort of).

(also, Truffle Tremor? Swoon.) I don't think I need a 3lb wheel of cheese for 6 people though; even though we COULD eat the whole thing. That's just it - we might.

Onto the cakier cake options (some still with my beloved goat cheese even!). . .

Harvest Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9” layer cake

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup finely grated beets
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup safflower, canola or other mild-tasting oil
4 eggs

For the frosting:
15 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup

For garnish
8-12 walnut halves or 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Arrange oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 400° F Grease two 9in x 2in cake pans, dust with a spoonful of flour and tap out. Line each with a round of parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir together carrots, zucchini, beets, nuts, and raisins.

In a large mixing bowl, beat maple syrup and oil together until emulsified. Add eggs one at a time, beating until batter is smooth. Add flour mixture in three or four batches, mixing gently until mixture is even. Gently mix in the vegetable mixture. Divide between baking pans.

Place one baking pan in center of each of the racks. Bake 25-35 minutes, until a skewer or paring knife inserted into centers comes out clear and cakes are pulling away from the sides of pans. Cool on a rack about 5 minutes, then gently remove from pans. Cool to room temperature before frosting.

To make frosting:
Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon and a strong arm, beat goat cheese and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill about 30 minutes, until firm.

To assemble:
Following our instructions on how to frost a layer cake, cut four strips of parchment or wax paper to line cake plate under the cake's edges. Place first cake layer on plate. If it has a peaked top, carefully shave it off using a bread knife or sharp slicing knife. Using an off-set spatula or table knife, spread with frosting, pushing it to edges. Place second layer, top down, squarely on first layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over entire cake to eliminate crumbs. Frost with remaining frosting. Arrange walnut halves and/or flowers around edge. Can also be garnished by gently pressing handfuls of finely chopped walnuts into frosting.

NOTE: The recipe has been updated to reflect a larger quantity so that layers can be bigger. We have tested it several times and find this recipe works better when feeding a crowd. Of course, for a smaller cake you could halve the recipe and bake it in smaller pans, or in one pan and slice that layer into two layer for a more thin cake.

Banana Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Butter, for greasing pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup veggie oil
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 c sour cream (as suggested by reviewers)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
(or this one)

Cook's Note: This recipe is not formulated for a wedding cake, but for a normal size everyone can use. Increase as needed if you are making tiered or extra large cakes.

Butter and flour 3 (9-inch) round cake pans; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs, oil, banana, sour cream and vanilla to another bowl and mix the wet ingredients separately. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat. Mix in nuts.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 23 to 28 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, make the frosting.

In a bowl, blend together the cream cheese and butter. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the pecans, or reserve them to sprinkle over the frosted cake. Fill and frost the cake when it is completely cool.

And of course I'm thinking up ways to de-Dean this recipe and healthify it a bit, but you know, sometimes you've just gotta go for it. We'll see. Reviewers complain that the cake isn't fluffy enough and is more like a dense bread - they suggest adding another egg or more water. . . can you imagine a banana cake with ganache frosting? Nom.

Banana Almond Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting
(yes, I just said that) Please do visit the blog, Savour Fare, as it offers up some fab photos and tips. Like this one!:
Now listen closely, because I am going to tell you the secret to baking a good cake: Beat the hell out of it before you add the flour, and beat it as little as possible afterwards. When you’re creaming butter and sugar, beat it until the mixture is not just combined, but fluffy, and nearly pure white. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, and then beating some more. Once you add the dry ingredients, just stir until barely combined. What you don’t want to happen in cake is the development of gluten. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment cut to size, and spray with Baker’s Joy, and your cake will release perfectly.

1) Freeze your cake layers before you start decorating.
2) Split the layers with a serrated knife, and while you’re at it, cut off the domed top of the layer.
3) If you’re planning on decorating a lot of cakes, invest in a turntable. They’re not very expensive and make the process easier.
4) Secure your bottom layer to a surface (a small cake can be transferred from the decorating surface with a spatula, but for a larger cake you might want to build it on a cardboard round), then spread filling on each layer and stack, checking to make sure it remains level.
5) Don’t skimp on the frosting. There’s no sense in making a delicious cake and using frosting from a can. You can tell. Powdered sugar will do in a pinch, but the best buttercreams are sugar syrup based (and this particular buttercream, which is made with whipped caramel, might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted)
5) Start with a thin layer of frosting on the outside of your cake (called a crumb coat), chill, then add additional frosting.
6) If the cake is primarily for looks, have a thick layer of frosting — it will hide more imperfections. If you’re willing to embrace some imperfections, aim for a thinner coat of frosting so the sweetness doesn’t overpower the cake.

Almond Banana Cake with Salted Butter Caramel Frosting and Chocolate Icing

Cake and Frosting from The Wedding Cake Book by Dede Wilson, Icing from

For the cake
3/4 c. banana puree (2 sm bananas)
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 c. + 2 T flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 oz butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 egg
1 oz. almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extracts and egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Combine buttermilk and banana in one bowl and dry ingredients in another, and add them in alternate batches to the butter sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester shows its done.

Salted Butter Caramel Buttercream (8 cups)
Ordinarily, buttercream frosting is the one time I would tell you to use unsalted butter, but with this caramel flavor, salted butter adds the perfect note of salt.
4 c. heavy cream
4 c. sugar
2 c. water
1 lb salted butter

Combine sugar and water, heat until amber, following directions for caramel in the hazelnut praline paste recipe. Immediately add the cream. Cool 10 minutes, put in mixer bowl and cool until firm (but not ice cold). Whip with an electric mixer with balloon whisk attachment until the caramel is fluffy, add butter 2 T at a time and whip until butter is incorporated. Use before chilling.

For the icing:
7 T butter
2 heaping T cocoa powder
3 T milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz. powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, add the cocoa powder. Allow to bubble for 30 seconds, turn off the heat, then add the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir until combined, let cool slightly, and pour over frosted and chilled cake.

Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

2 pounds tan-skinned sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
31/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced candied orange peel
3 tablespoons sugar

For cake:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce potatoes with fork; place on small baking sheet. Roast potatoes until soft, about 1 hour. Cool, peel, and mash potatoes. Measure 2 cups mashed potatoes; cool to lukewarm (reserve any remaining potatoes for another use). Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; line pans with parchment. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Combine oil, 1 cup sugar, and brown sugar in large bowl; whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, then mashed sweet potatoes. Whisk in flour mixture in 3 additions. Stir in 2/3 cup walnuts and 2/3 cup cranberries. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes completely in pans on racks.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, scraping down bowl often. Beat in orange juice concentrate and vanilla.

Cut around pan sides; turn out cakes. Peel off parchment. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Combine orange peel, 3 tablespoons sugar, remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1/4 cup cranberries in small bowl. Stir to coat with sugar. Transfer to sieve; sift off excess sugar. Sprinkle fruit and nut mixture decoratively atop cake. Chill until frosting sets, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Finally, they rave about this one; but I just don't know. . .
Oh, one more thing. Holla!

1 comment:

Toni said...

Banana Cakes Please! One of each, plus one more with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Because you had me at cream cheese frosting and adding chocolate can only make it even better.