Monday, July 22, 2013

Cake Experiment Summary


I have made a summary of the cakes with links to the recipe, pictures and summary.

Definitely Make Again


2. Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange CreamCheese Frosting

Monday, July 8, 2013

Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

Cupcake Ranking: 3 Cupcakes

Red Velvet cake is always a curiosity for me.  It isn't chocolate and it isn't vanilla and it is red.  People either love it or are indifferent.   I am in the indifferent category.  This cake was good.  It was moist, spongey and had a great texture.  If I was to do it again, I would double the icing recipe (but I am an icing fan).  The cake had simple ingredients and was very basic.  Shrug.  Nothing spectacular but easy to make.

3/4 C unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 C Cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans

3 Tbs unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 C Sugar 
3 large Eggs
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp Salt
2 one-ounce bottles liquid Red food coloring 
3 Tbs lukewarm Water
1 C Buttermilk 
1 tsp Baking soda
1 Tbs White vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans (I used one 8 inch spring form pan). Line with parchment paper, and butter again. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, food coloring, and water; beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well combined. Add reserved dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the buttermilk; beat on low speed until well combined.

In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Be sure not to overbeat. Divide batter between prepared pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 (The original recipe called for Walnuts.  I omitted these).

Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.  

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread about 1/3 of the frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, and spread with the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until ready to serve.

Rach's Review: Like I said above, this cake was good.  Nothing too exciting, but okay.  The cake had a perfect texture.  The icing was very mild.   If you prefer a sweeter cream cheese frosting, see the Orange Cream cheese frosting recipe or the cream cheese frosting with the Carrot cake recipe.

Monday, July 1, 2013

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
Cupcake Ranking:  4 Cupcakes

This cake was so simple I was hoping it was going to be good.  And, it absolutely was delicious.  It just goes along with my theory that simple ingredients make the best food.  The cake was moist, spongey and chocolatey.  It was great.  The frosting was interesting.  It was more of a mousse than an icing.  I would use it again to put in between layers but not necessarily for an "all-over" icing.  I think a chocolate buttercream would be heavenly!

Unsalted butter, softened, for pans
3/4 C unsweetened Dutch Cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C All-purpose flour
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
2 large Eggs
3/4 C low-fat Buttermilk
3/4 c Warm water
3 Tbs Safflower oil
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
Chocolate Icing
2 1/4 C Confectioners' sugar
1/4 C unsweetened Cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 oz Cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted Butter, softened
9 oz Bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 C Sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep) (I used an 8 inch springform pan); dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, faceup, to wire racks. Let cool completely.
Icing Directions: Sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually add sugar-cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Pour in chocolate in a slow, steady stream. Add creme fraiche; beat until combined.
Spread 2 cups chocolate frosting onto top of 1 cooled layer. Top with remaining layer; frost top and sides with remaining 2 cups frosting.
Rach's Review: This cake was yummy.  It was chocolatey and spongey and EASY.  Perfect!  I will definetley use a buttercream next time.  It was DELICIOUS!!

Orange Almond Cake

Orange Almond Cake
Cupcake Ranking: 2 Cupcakes
I had high hopes for this cake.  It sounded delicious.  It ended up mediocre.  At best.  The taste of the cake was fine but it was kinda bland and very dry.  I put an orange cream cheese frosting on it, but I think all in all this cake would be a better breakfast cake with a streusal on top. Like I said, it was ok, but nothing fantastic. I actually preferred the orange icing on top over the cake.
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C sifted Cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
1 C plus 3 Tbs Sugar
6 large Eggs, separated
Grated zest of 2 Oranges
2/3 C strained, freshly squeezed Orange juice
1/2 tsp pure Almond extract
1 1/2 C finely ground Blanched almonds
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment and flour cake pans; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together 1 cup of sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add orange zest, juice, and almond extract; mix until well combined. Turn mixer off. Remove the whisk and add the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium, slowly add ground almonds, followed by flour; mix cake batter until well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add salt and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff but not dry. Set aside.

Fold melted butter into cake batter, a little at a time. Gently fold in egg white mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. (I would add streusal at this point).Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake layers to a wire rack to cool completely.

Invert cakes to remove from pan and remove parchment paper; reinvert cakes. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Add frosting if that is what you choose.

Rach's Review: Again, this cake was okay.  Nothing fantastic with not a lot of taste.  The texture reminded me of coffee cake, which is why I think streusal would be great on top.  Overall Meh.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Tier Candied Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Pears

Three Tier Candied Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Pears

Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcake

The idea of this cake sounded good, but pears don't have a lot of taste so was skeptical.  However, this cake was homey, comforting and delicious.  The cake reminded me of an Italian Panettone and Mom's Sunday Fruit crisp. The texture was great and the candied pecans added a nice sweet taste to the moist cake.


2 C Chopped pecans, toasted
3 Tbs unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/4 C packed light-Brown sugar
1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 sticks unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 C all-purpose Flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp Baking powder
Coarse salt
1 3/4 C Granulated sugar
1 C plus 2 Tbs Whole milk
3 large Egg whites

4 Tbs Unsalted butter
4 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, and tossed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 C Chilled heavy cream
2 Tbs Bourbon (optional) (I used Orange juice)
2 tsp Confectioners' sugar
Garnish: 1/3 C Chopped Pecans

Candy the pecans: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss toasted pecans with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring to coat halfway through, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess (I used a 8 inch springform pan.  I placed all of the batter in one pan.  Many reviewers complained of dryness.  Mine wasn't dry at all.  I think that having it bake for longer in one pan helped with the moisture factor.) Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat butter and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in candied pecans.

Beat egg whites in a clean bowl with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (In one pan it took about 45 minutes) Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the pear filling: Brown butter in a skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Cook pears, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.

(Only do this step right before serving the cake) Make the bourbon whipped cream: Whisk cream, bourbon (or orange juice), and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

Trim tops of cakes to create a level surface using a serrated knife. Transfer 1 cake to a platter. Spread half the pears over the top. Top with another cake. Spread remaining pears over the top. Top with remaining cake. Spread whipped cream over the top. Garnish with chopped pecans.

Rach's Review: This cake was really delicious and super comforting.  It would be a great winter, fall or winter cake.  The cake was moist, the pecans added a sweet crunch, and the pears provided a fruity taste and texture.  This reminded me of cold winter Idaho nights, sitting at home, playing games with my family eating hot fruit crisp with whipping cream.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Cake?!

Sweet Potato Cake
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes

Soo, when I first saw this recipe, I laughed.  Mmmm, kay. Sweet potato? Like yams or sweet potato fries? Isn't that the anti-sweet? But, in my quest I wanted and in fact needed to try it. And, was more than pleasantly surprised.  I took a first, hesitant, bite and the spices and flavor burst in my mouth. I don't like pumpkin pie.  The texture is funky. However, this was like a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie that was spilling over with flavor minus the baby food texture.  I definetely want to make it again, but try it as a pie instead of a cake.  The frosting was a little funky because it was white chocolate mixed with cream.  In pie form, I will drizzle it with white chocolate and leave out the nuts.  Delish!


2 lb (about 3) Sweet potatoes (I had three big sweet potatoes and it was WAY to much. Go for 2 big ones or 3 small ones)
1 1/4 C Vegetable oil
Unsalted butter, for pans
2 C Cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pans
4 Large eggs
2 C Sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbs ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
3 Tbs Brandy (or equal amounts of fruit juice.  I used orange.)
1 1/2 C unsalted Macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 lb White chocolate
2 C Heavy cream
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse puree.
Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans (I'm not sure where they are coming from but I used one 10 inch springform pan and it FILLED the whole thing.  This makes a big cake), dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy (or fruit juice) until combined. Remove batter from mixer; fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts by hand.
Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.
Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.
When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.
Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers. Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost. Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve.
Rach's Notes:
This cake is really yummy.  I had serious doubts but it was delicious!  I highly recommend it and am excited to try it in pie form.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes

Because of the other white cakes in this series, my hopes were not high for this cake.  It ended up being amazing! The cake was spongey and light.  If you didn't want to make an angel food cake, this would be a perfect substitute.  The fruit and cream were perfect companions for this cake.  However, I do not think buttercream would work.  The texture of the icing and the cake would be too similar and not feel right in the mouth of the endulgee.
For the Cake
2 1/4 C Cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 C Granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 C Safflower oil
7 large Egg yolks plus 9 large Egg whites
3/4 C Whole milk (I used canned milk)
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Berries and Cream
2 pounds Strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered (about 5 cups), plus more for serving
1/2 C Granulated sugar
1 Tbs fresh Lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 C cold Heavy cream
1/4 C Confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Whisk together oil, egg yolks, and milk in a large bowl. Whisk flour mixture into egg-yolk mixture.
Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla seeds or extract, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one-third of the egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a rubber spatula.
Transfer batter to tube pan. Bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 52 to 55 minutes (Mine took 45 minutes and that was more than plenty). Let cool upside down 1 hour. (I made the cake the day before and it was absolutely fine in plastic wrap).
Make the berries and cream: While cake is baking and cooling, combine strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and let sit, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Just before assembling, beat cream and confectioners' sugar until medium peaks form.
Slide a paring knife around edges of tube and side of pan; release cake. Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers with a serrated knife. Transfer bottom layer to a cake plate or platter. Spread with half the berries, and drizzle with juices. Spread half the whipped cream over berries, then top with middle cake layer. Spread with remaining berries and whipped cream. Top with remaining cake layer. Refrigerate cake 1 hour. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve with berries.
Rach's Notes: This cake was really yummy.  The cake was light but both spongey and moist.  The fruit and the cream were perfect compliments to the cake.  This would be great for a summer picnic or dessert.   Happy baking!