Cake Archive

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.

Pork Cracklins | Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting

I should preface this post by saying that despite my low success rate baking out of Baked Elements, I still love the book. The concept is terrific, and Matt and Renato take chances on flavors that are unique and sometimes risky. No matter what, it’s fun to bake out of all of the Baked books.

This cake might fall in that camp. Pumpkin almond cake isn’t bad, although I think I slightly underbaked mine. It’s a simple snack cake – a single layer, topped with an almond butter frosting. Larry liked the cake plain.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an almond butter frosting, and I don’t know why. It’s a great idea. Peanut butter frosting, I’ve seen – but I don’t like it.

This is where my problem started. I was somehow out of regular almond butter. I didn’t want to use peanut butter. I’ve been hoarding a bottle of the elusive cookie butter, so didn’t want to use that either. So I used some marcona almond butter. My delicious marcona almond butter, which became a really delicious frosting… that just didn’t work with the cake. But I think I’m on to something with the marcona almond frosting.

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

  • Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting (Baked Elements, p. 94)
Pork Cracklins | Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows

This cake is the perfect finish for a dinner party. It’s dramatic and amazingly delicious, especially if you like chocolate. And it’s not fussy to make – everything can be made the day before so that it’s ready to be assembled a few hours before the fun starts.

My success with big, multi-layer cakes is spotty. I end up breaking layers, or my cake comes out crooked, or there’s something wrong with the frosting. I was shocked – SHOCKED – when this ended up being completely trouble-free.

The chocolate cake is sturdy enough to stand up to a bit of manhandling when removing it from the pans to cool. It’s so simple – ingredients are whisked together in a bowl, no stand mixer needed. Buttermilk adds moistness. And it’s an odd technique, kind of like making brownies, where eggs are added to a wet chocolate mixture instead of after creaming butter and sugar together.

Then there’s the frosting. I’ve never made a frosting like this. It’s kind of like a loose, fudgy pudding. It needs to be made ahead, because it thickens up in the refrigerator or freezer before being whipped into submission. It’s deeply chocolate, very easy to work with, and one of the best chocolate frostings I’ve ever had.

The marshmallows are pretty straighforward, pretty much just gelatin and sugar syrup. It’s a really delicious tasting marshmallow, though. Once the layers are together and iced and the marshmallows are cut up into various sized cubes, they’re piled high on top of the cake. It’s such a pretty cake.

We didn’t just have cake for dinner. We had Dan, Assana, Barry, Paul and Matthew over for a fun night of food, drinks and lots of inappropriate humor. As always. I kept dinner simple, chicken roulades that I seem to make anytime we have someone over for dinner, a quick saute of fennel and onions, goat cheese polenta and a salad. It only took a short amount of time in the kitchen since everything was prepped ahead, so I had time to relax and have fun. Lots of fun.

Wine: Copain 2007 Wetzel Vineyard (Anderson Valley, California). Great wine – we had three bottles, and drank them all!

Pork Cracklins | Twinkie Bundt Cake

Twinkies weren’t a part of my childhood. They were relegated to the same class as sugary cereals and were forbidden fruit. I lamented having to eat cheerios for breakfast, but I never complained about not having Twinkies, because my mom kept us supplied with tasty home-baked cakes and cookies. No need for Twinkies.

What I know about Twinkies is that they’re really sweet – in fact, too sweet for even me. And the few times I actually tried a Twinkie, I remember the cake being kind of dry and tough. A moist, tender-crumbed but sturdy Bundt cake seems like the perfect way to reinvent the Twinkie.

The cake is moist from the oil and buttermilk, and sturdy enough to take some manhandling from getting the filling in there. There’s some butter, but not too much. I can’t imagine a Twinkie tasting too buttery – instead, it’s the healthy dose of vanilla that really shines in the cake and makes it a perfect foil for the filling.

The filling – it’s pretty much just sugar, butter, vanilla. The sugar is in the form of marshmallow creme, which I tend to have on hand (don’t judge, it comes in handy when I need to whip up an emergency frosting).

Next time, I’m going to make the filling holes in the bottom of the cake larger, and a little deeper. They shouldn’t go more than about halfway in, so the stability of the cake is preserved, but my holes were kind of narrow. I put in as much filling as they would take, but I had a bit left over, and Larry thought it would have been better with more filling.

To get the recipe, click on over to Cook’s Chronicles.

Pork Cracklins | Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting

I’ve had a few failures in my two years of Baked Sunday Mornings, but none crushed me as much as this one.

For one thing – this is a caramel cake. With rum frosting. I’ve been dying to make this cake ever since the book came out. It’s got all my favorite flavors, plus I get to use a fancy Bundt pan.

The cake batter is pretty simple to make. It’s got caramel sauce in the batter, plus plenty of butter.

I started checking my cake at 35 minutes – my oven tends to bake a little fast. My skewer came out clean, but the middle section still looked a little underbaked on the top so I left the cake in another 10 minutes. Skewer clean again, no jiggly batter.

I set the cake pan on a rack and left it to cool. I came back in the kitchen an hour later and was greeted with a sunken cake. The entire middle section was undercooked. Faulty skewer!

If I was making this for anyone besides us, I probably would have dumped the whole thing and started over. But I couldn’t bear the thought of all that butter and sugar going to waste, so I decided to see if I could salvage some of it.

The frosting is very rich – butter, rum, and more caramel sauce, whipped up in a food processor. It’s really good.

I carefully unmolded my cake and frosted it as quickly as possible. The caramel shards on top are a nice touch, both for visual appeal and for texture.

The cake began to melt from the inside as soon as I unmolded it, but Larry managed to snap a few photos before it looked like a complete disaster. I will be making this cake again – it’s got potential!

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 | Milk Chocolate Malt Ball Cupcakes

I was there in the kitchen, with the Sad Little Cake, with just a few hours to go and I needed to come up with some sort of non-sad dessert for eight people.

I scrambled through some of my favorite, most reliable cookbooks. Everything I picked out needed too much time. Cookies are always easy – except they usually need some time chilling in the refrigerator. I thought about some sort of bars, but it didn’t seem sophisticated enough to bring to a dinner party.

I was thinking of a quick chocolate cupcake and at the same time wondering if I should break out one of my emergency Baked mixes, when I decided to go ahead and make the milk chocolate malt cake I’d been eyeing for months.

This is quite a cake. Three delicate layers of malt-flavored white cake, and a wonderful milk chocolate frosting. I was nervous about making a large layer cake with so little time, but the decision was made for me when I realized I STILL hadn’t picked up a third eight-inch cake pan.

So… cupcakes. They aren’t as fussy as a big layer cake, they bake quickly, and the malt flavor is special enough to make up for the fact that I brought cupcakes to a dinner party.

This recipe makes a lot of cupcakes – 36 in all. The cake is delicate and just mildly malt-y. Delicious. The milk chocolate buttercream is light and silky and perfect in every way. I’m glad I went the cupcake route – I was just finishing up frosting them 15 minutes before we had to leave.

Baked to the rescue! The recipe is posted on Food & Wine.