This is what I was working on for the better part of last week--a two-tier engagement cake for our friends Joe and MK. It was quite the experience trying to construct this cake. I had no idea what I was doing so I e-mailed back and forth with my friend Katie for instructions...28 times. I still turned a sizeable chunk of fondant a hideous brownish-red color (and died my hands a lovely shade of pink that lasted two days), but luckily Nic had convinced me to buy the jumbo size fondant at Michael's. I was so scared of coloring the fondant after that though that I tried to stick to simple colors...and I ended up making what would have been a beautiful baby shower cake. Too bad it was for an engagement.
Then we carried the cake to a great restaurant downtown for a little get together with some of Joe and MK's friends. And the waiters for some reason decided to put candles in the cake. Candles? So now it looked like a birthday cake. Actually it looked more like a cartoon explosive... Can you see how the candles are coming out at an angle? Sometimes you can't win.
The lovely Jaime took this picture (and the one at the bottom of the cake slices). I wish all my blog photos could be done by a professional. ::Sigh:: She also took a picture of my face when I saw that they put candles in the cake. It wasn't a pretty face.
Luckily despite the odd coloring and the candles the cake tasted great. So great in fact that after serving us our slices the rest of the cake seemed to have disappeared in the kitchen. Hmmm. The bottom tier of the cake was pumpkin with butterscotch-pecan filling and brown sugar icing (for MK, who loves all things pumpkin) and the top tier was chocolate with raspberry filling and icing (because Joe prefers chocolate).
The pumpkin cake was really dense but delicious, and the butterscotch filling and caramelly brown sugar icing were the perfect compliment. The recipe came Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, and for the sake of brevity, I'm not going to retype it. I didn't change anything, but I did double the cake portion of the recipe to make two eight inch cake layers (I had a little extra because the originally recipe is for a 9 inch cake), and I swapped pecans for the walnuts in the filling.
The chocolate cake was light and airy with a deep chocolate flavor. This cake was so good, I'm already looking for another excuse to make it. I like my cake on the light side of the dense-light cake texture scale, and I really love how simple this cake is to make. My Grandmom's original recipe tells you to just throw all the ingredients together and mix until combined. I complicated things a little, but I'm betting that it works just fine Grandmom's way. The only other changes I made to my Grandmom's recipe was to add a little salt and to use hot coffee instead of hot water.
The raspberry filling came from Katie, and the recipe is over here, but I only used it as an icing because I was covering the cake with fondant. Normally, I would ice the cake with a simple chocolate icing or glaze.
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups hot coffee (or water)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease a bundt pan or two 8 inch cake pans.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium speed, until smooth.
-In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
-In a cup combine the hot coffee and the vanilla.
-Set the mixer to low, and add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan (or divide evenly between the two prepared pans) and bake on the center rack in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan(s), then flip the cake onto a wire rack to cool the rest of the way before icing.
Monday, February 2, 2009