Cake Archive

Pork Cracklins | Mile-High Chocolate Cake With Vanilla Buttercream

This is a pretty classic chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, except it’s super tall. And each of the three standard layers are cut in half for excitement and drama. Cake-related excitement and drama.

I love the frosting – it’s a departure from the standard Baked frosting, which is delicious but has been known to break hearts. I’ve never had any issues with it, but this is an Italian buttercream, my most favorite buttercream ever. It’s silky and light, and it’s pretty forgiving. It has a tendency to look broken at some point in the mixing process, but the solution is to just keep adding butter.

I went slightly off-recipe when it came time to decorate. The frosting is only supposed to go between the layers, and then the chocolate glaze goes on top (and drips down the sides). I wanted a cleaner look and there was plenty of frosting, so I frosted the sides and top, then used about half of the glaze on top.

I brought the cake to a brunch yesterday. It’s good – looks more spectacular than it tastes, but it’s a solid chocolate cake. The buttercream is outstanding.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

  • Mile-High Chocolate Cake With Vanilla Buttercream (Baked Elements, p. 175)
Pork Cracklins | Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake

This is a pretty simple upside-down cake. The topping is brown sugar and butter, spiked with whiskey. Peaches go on top of the sauce, which is then topped with a cake batter that’s been lightened with egg whites.

I love the flavor of the topping, and the cake is delicious on its own. But put everything together with peaches and it’s not my favorite cake (maybe it’s the cooked peaches that I don’t like – perhaps it might be better with pears?). Good enough to bring most of it to work, and it disappeared very quickly. And the whiskey whipped cream is insanely good.

The big question with the group for this recipe was whether or not to peel the peaches. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. I did, even though the recipe didn’t say to peel them. It seemed like the peach skin would be pretty but not good to eat.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Oopsy Daisy Cake

I’d venture to say that layer cakes are by far Baked’s strength: moist, tender yet sturdy layer cakes, a buttercream that never gives me any problems, and interesting flavor combinations. Why Oopsy Daisy? Because the inclusion of milk chocolate was a mistake – a delicious mistake that ended up in a lovely cake that’s less intense than one with dark chocolate.

The chocolate is still pretty chocolate-y, though, thanks to some cocoa powder and a bit of coffee, which serves to amp up the chocolate flavor. I’d be perfectly happy eating this cake plain, or maybe with a bit of powdered sugar on top.

This is a two-layer cake, with peanut butter filling in between. Straight peanut butter would be too strong and too dense and sticky on its own, but lightened up with some butter and powdered sugar, it makes a creamy, fluffy counter to the chocolate. A tiny bit of the filling is also added to the vanilla buttercream.

I admit, I don’t love peanut butter, and neither Larry or I particularly like peanut and chocolate together, but it’s a pretty good cake. If you’re someone who likes that combination, I’d guess you’d love this cake.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Malted Madeleines

This was my first time ever making madeleines. The thing with these little sponge cakes is that a special pan is required. Madeleines aren’t madeleines unless they’ve got that classic shell shape.

I picked up a pan a couple of months ago, and finally got to take it for a test drive with this recipe. I got lazy and didn’t butter the pan – a quick spray of Pam with Flour ensured they wouldn’t stick. Should I not have admitted that?

They aren’t hard to make – there are two tricky parts, though. The first is figuring out how much batter is exactly perfect for each mold. Trial and error and a variety of dishers is a great way to get perfect, uniform madeleines. Mine were not perfect or uniform by any measure.

The other tricky part is the baking time. These go from moist and delicious to dry in an instant. I checked mine and knew they needed a bit more time, but a minute more was too long. Thirty more seconds would have been fine. The flavor of these is terrific, though. Nice chocolate flavor with subtle malty undertones.

I’m interested in trying again – in particular because madeleines are so versatile and can be adapted for the season or occasion. Right now the lavender is in bloom and I’m dying to make a lavender-scented version.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake

I just love Bundt cakes. And pair a Bundt with copious amounts of butter, rum and black pepper, and I’m in heaven.

This cake doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a dense, moist crumb that has all of the qualities of a good rum – slightly sweet and aromatic, with a hint of molasses – without being overwhelmingly boozy.

The title of the cake refers to the triple-whammy of rum that it receives, and not in quantities that are faint of heart. I cringed a bit as a poured out a healthy 3/4 cup of my beloved Zacapa 23 for the batter. The second hit of rum comes after the cake is cooled, in the form of a buttery syrup that’s soaked into the upside-down cake for a few hours. Then the crowning glory is a hot buttered rum glaze.

I didn’t have any issues with the cake until I made the glaze. It seemed thin enough to drizzle, but it just sort of glopped on. I put the bowl over a low flame for a few seconds, and it thinned out just fine – the butter had started to cool and harden. I cut back on the rum in the glaze by half, and added a bit of water to get the right consistency.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Aunt Sassy Cake

I went a couple of different directions with this lovely pistachio chiffon cake.

I wasn’t up for a huge layer cake, so I split up the batter into a dozen cupcakes plus a cute little 6×3 cake, which I split into three layers. I love how the 6″ cake looks, and it makes nice, perfectly sized slices.

Chiffon cake is one of my favorites – it’s sturdy and had a tender crumb, but is lightened with an egg foam before it’s baked. This is pretty much the same as a chiffon cake, except it uses butter instead of oil for the fat.

And then there’s the famous Baked buttercream, which never seems to fail me. It’s creamy and so easy to work with. The base is thickened and cooked with some flour, but the flour flavor doesn’t come through.

To get the recipe and see the other entries from this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings head on over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Sunday Night Cake

This is a lightly spiced sour cream cake. It’s easy to make (maybe on a Sunday night?). The frosting is good, a pretty straightforward chocolate frosting.

It’s not exactly a pretty cake. Yellow and square, with chocolate frosting on top. It’s functional, because sometimes you just need cake.

I think I baked mine a little too long, because while it wasn’t exactly dry, it didn’t have a super moist texture. The flavor was fine, just didn’t bowl us over. The frosting is chocolatey and pudding-like, and it’s good, but it didn’t wow us either.

Larry and I both felt the same way about this recipe. It’s an okay cake, but nothing particularly wonderful about it. I had a bite of the first slice, then never went back for more. I think Larry had a few pieces, but it mostly just sat on the counter, uneaten.

To get the recipe and see the other entries from this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings head on over to Baked Sunday Mornings.

Pork Cracklins | Honey Lemon Beehive Cake

Larry indulged my bee obsession and bought me an adorable cake pan for Christmas.

The pan has two reservoirs for cake batter, one for each side of the cake, so it ends up as a 3D hive. I went ahead and just make the recipe that came with the cake – a simple snack cake flavored with lemon and honey. It’s an okay cake, not the greatest.

Really, any cake recipe that’s appropriate for a large Bundt pan would work here. The two things that are really needed are a bit of buttercream (to glue the two sides together) and a thick glaze (as decoration and to hide the seams down the side).

The little bees are made with royal icing. I had meringue powder, so I used that to make the icing. It doesn’t taste very good, so if you want the bees to be edible, make a real royal icing with actual egg whites. I made a LOT of bees, which turned out to be a good thing. They’re delicate, and I broke a good number of them.

Braised Pork Belly with Caramel Miso Glaze
Sweet Sweet Potato Biscuits
Mahogany Black Cod with Whipped Parsnips, Baby Bok Choy & Mustard Sauce
Brown Butter-Delicata Squash Soup with Sherry Vinegar Reduction
Addictive Bran Muffins with Golden Raisins & Bird Seed
Lady Praline Chiffon Cake
Soft Candy Caramels
Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows
Ginger Cookies
Chocolate Smoked Salt Ice Cream
Key Lime Pie
My Best of 2012 list was long and difficult to narrow down. Larry and I had a spirited discussion about what made the cut and what didn’t. At the end, we were left with eleven items that needed to be on our final favorites list. There was a lot of good food last year, though. Here are our favorites – outside of the number one item, none are in any particular order:

  • Braised Pork Belly with Caramel Miso Glaze (overall favorite). Last year was the Year of Pork Belly for us. We’ve eaten it at restaurants for years but this was the first year we’ve made it semi-regularly at home. And this braised version is absolutely perfect.
  • Sweet Sweet Potato Biscuits (favorite side). A last-minute addition to Thanksgiving dinner, we went nuts over these tender, flaky sweet potato biscuits. And I don’t even like sweet potatoes.
  • Mahogany Black Cod with Whipped Parsnips, Baby Bok Choy & Mustard Sauce (favorite fish). We got black cod a few times from our wonderful seafood CSA (Siren SeaSA). The parsnips and bok choy are perfect foils for the buttery, rich fish.
  • Brown Butter-Delicata Squash Soup with Sherry Vinegar Reduction (favorite soup). I didn’t make a lot of soup in 2012, for some reason. But I was overloaded with delicata squash – thankfully, because I could have drank this soup by the gallon. The balsamic sherry reduction drizzled on top takes it over the top.
  • Addictive Bran Muffins with Golden Raisins & Bird Seed (favorite muffin). When we were reviewing 2012 Best Of posts and came across this one, Larry went on and on about how much he loved these muffins. I was on a mini-quest to find a great bran muffin last year, and this recipe was the clear winner. They truly are addictive.
  • Lady Praline Chiffon Cake (favorite everyday cake). Sometimes you need a plain Jane cake. Nothing fancy, but when you bite into it, its looks become a non-issue because it’s so delicious. This is that cake.
  • Soft Candy Caramels (favorite candy). Baked Explorations continues to be one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. I couldn’t stop eating these caramels.
  • Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows (favorite fancy cake). Not only delicious and spectacular looking, but I thought it was relatively easy to make. Sometimes fancy cakes have a big payoff, but there’s a lot of angst along the way. This chocolate bomb was trouble-free, and amazing.
  • Ginger Cookies (favorite cookie). I found my dream ginger cookie (almost). Just need to work on getting them thicker. Otherwise, they’re perfect.
  • Chocolate Smoked Salt Ice Cream (favorite ice cream). I liked this more than Larry did, but that’s because smoky, salty, and chocolate-y are probably my top three favorite flavors of all time. Put those in an ice cream, and I’m in heaven.
  • Key Lime Pie (favorite pie). The most wonderful key lime pie – it brought back memories of our trip to the Keys. We tried Key Lime Pie everywhere we went, and this is represents our favorite slice.
Pork Cracklins | Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

With my spotty record when it comes to big, three-layer cakes from any of the Baked books, I was tempted to make cupcakes instead. But I got brave and forged ahead anyway.

The Baked three-layer cakes are wonderful – none of the problems I’ve had have anything to do with the recipes. It’s just me. I’m not a great maker of spectacular cakes, and I always seem to get something wrong.

This cake is interesting. It’s got a lot of flavors going on, and it’s lightened up with beaten egg whites. This helps it not be too much like gingerbread, with the molasses in there.

The buttercream is the standard Baked recipe – cooked milk, sugar and flour for the base and lots and lots of butter. I’m a fan of this buttercream because it’s light and stable and always tastes great. And this one really does taste like eggnog, with a bit of rum and fresh nutmeg.

Everything went surprisingly well as I was making the cake layers. I had all three 8″ pans on hand. I didn’t forget ingredients. It mixed up beautifully and I put the pans in to bake, rotating them halfway through to ensure even baking.

As I was taking the cake pans out of the oven, I gently poked at the top of each to see if it looked done. I had already put a skewer in and it came out clean, but a second good test is to see if the cake will spring back when poked. It did. And then I got to the third and last pan. It slipped out of my grip as I was pulling it out and flipped upside down onto the open oven door. Butterfingers!

Larry and I tried to salvage it, but it was too late. We scooped it up from my thankfully newly cleaned oven floor, held a little memorial service, and then proclaimed it Finger Cake. Meaning, we ate it bit by bit with our fingers. And man, this is one good cake. It’s got a perfect, light texture but still tastes a lot like gingerbread.

My alternate plan was to make a two-layer cake instead. I cut each layer in two so I actually did a 4-layer cake. Take that, butterfingers!

It’s not a beautiful cake. It’s a little homely, a cake with a secret. Perfect for the holidays, spot-on flavor and texture. I love this cake.

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Morning bakers fared, head over to Baked Sunday Mornings.