Monday, December 13, 2010

Bundt Cake #6 of Bundt Cake Season 3 - Bold and Spicy Gingerbread

Now this sounds like my kind of ginger cake! My friend Meera contributed this cake to BCS3 and here is her analysis:

Holy cow, this was a fabulous cake, IF you love ginger! (It was too much for my kids, but perfect for me!)

The recipe is from the Cook’s Illustrated holiday baking magazine. It was dark, dense, and wonderfully gingery. One change I would have made, though, is to serve it with whipped or clotted cream, and to maybe not use the glaze. The glaze was too thick as it was in the recipe, so I added the juice from about a half a lemon, and then it became too thin. I don’t know that it added all that much to the cake itself, anyway, but whipped cream (maybe flavored with… Irish whiskey? /me faints dead away) would be a perfect creamy foil to the dense, sharp, peppery cake. Holy gods, it was amazing.

Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? And just in time for the holidays!

Bold & Spicy Gingerbread
From Cook’s Illustrated “Holiday Baking” issue, 2010

16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
2 ½ cups (12 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp table salt
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz) sugar
4 tsp grated fresh ginger
¾ cup robust (dark) molasses
¾ cup stout beer (see note)

1 ¾ cups (7 oz) confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp ginger ale (see note)
1 tsp ground ginger

For the cake:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375ºF.
Grease and flour 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.
Stir in ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Whisk eggs, sugar, and fresh ginger in large bowl until light and frothy
Stir in melted butter mixture, molasses and stout until incorporated.
Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until no lumps remain.
Pour batter into prepared pan and gently tap pan on countertop to release any trapped air bubbles.
Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool cake in pan 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.

For the glaze:
Whisk confectioners’ sugar, ginger ale, and ginger in bowl until smooth.
Pour glaze over cooled cake.
Let glaze set 15 minutes.

(Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered in plastic wrap, for 2 days.)
Note: Guinness is the test kitchen’s favorite brand of stout. An equal amount of orange or lemon juice can be substituted for the ginger ale in the glaze.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bundt Cake #5 of Bundt Cake Season 3 - Russian Coffeecake

I have to say that my second contribution to BCS3 was a bit disappointing. Of course, in the cake's defense, I might have made it a bit incorrectly. Oh, and other people really liked it. (Honestly, I think this is where the fact that I am actually not the hugest fan of cake may be coming into play. I guess I have high standards for what I think is really tasty when it comes to cakes. Some people might think I'm crazy.)

So, the part where I made some mistakes. This is how the cake is supposed to be put together: half the batter, then dollops of peach jam, then the sliced apricots, then two-thirds of the ground chocolate-ground almond-coconut mixture. Then the rest of the batter, then the remaining one-third of the chocolate-almond-coconut mixture.

How I actually put it together: Half the batter, dollops of peach jam, 2/3 of the chocolate-almond mixture, rest of the batter. Realize I forgot the apricots, curse loudly. Sprinkle apricots over the top and then carefully poke them with a rubber spatula to get them into the cake (so they're not sitting on the top). Spread the rest of the chocolate-almond mixture on the top of the batter. Realize I forgot the coconut. Curse more loudly. Sprinkle coconut over the chocolate-almond mixture, and figure that at least toasted coconut tastes good...

At some point in the future, if I decide to make this cake again, I'm sure I'll remember all the steps. To be honest, I kind of liked the apricots not being right with the peach jam, because that would have been a bit too much intense sweetness for me. This way, you had some more sweetness/peachy-apricoty flavor in the second part of the cake. On the other hand, I definitely think that having the coconut incorporated in with the ground chocolate-almond mixture would have been tastier.

In any case, as I mentioned, it was well received, so clearly it was not a huge disaster. Here's the recipe if you'd like to make it yourself.

From The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10" tube pan (obviously you can use a bundt pan).

Batter Ingredients:

1 cup butter (softened)

1 packed cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling ingredients:

a heaping 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

a heaping 1/2 cup of whole almonds

a heaping 1/2 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut

a generous 1/2 cup of peach or apricot jaom

1/2 cup of sliced dried apricots


Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla

Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, & salt.

Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture. Use a wooden spoon, and mix just enough to blend after each addition.

Place the chocolate chips and almonds in blender jar. Whirl together at high speed for 20-30 seconds (until pulverized but not mushy). Combine with the coconut

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it until even. Spoon little dollops of jam here and there onto batter (don't try to spread it--just leave it in little blobs), and sprinkle on the apricots and about 2/3 of the chocolate-nut mix.

Add the remaining batter, distributing it nicely. Sprinkle the top with remaining chocolate-nut mix, and back the cake for 50-60 minutes (until a probing knife come out clean). Cool completely before removing from the pan.

This cake was made on November 21st.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bundt Cake #4 of Bundt Cake Season 3 - Chocolate Ribbon Pound Cake

For her inaugural bundt cake, my friend, Maren, made the Chocolate Ribbon Pound Cake from Bundt Cake Season 2. And here's what she had to say about it.

I think that melting the chocolate and mixing it with the milk and orange zest might make an improved filling. The cake has chips, not a swirl. I omitted the nuts because I loathe them. Also, when it came out of the oven it was very high, tall, and looked almost like an angel food cake, as it cooled, it sank into dense pound-cake-type cake. Anyway, it tastes awesome and we really like it.

Here's the recipe:

From Bundt Cookbook (put out by Nordic Ware, the maker of fine bundt pans everywhere)

3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream

1 6 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp. grated orange peel

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp soft butter
2-4 tbsp. orange juice
1-2 tsp. grated orange peel

In small bowl, combine all Filling ingredients; set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture with sour cream and blend until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Spoon 1/2 of batter into greased and lightly floured 10 or 12 cup bundt pan; spoon filling in center of batter, not touching sides of pan. Spoon remaining batter into pan to cover filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 65-80 minutes or until the cake tests done. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack or serving plate to complete cooling. Top with a thin orange glaze.

To make the glaze:
In a small bowl, combine sugar and butter. Add orange juice gradually until you reach desired consistency. Add orange peel to taste.

Looking at Maren's picture, and given that my chips, when I made this cake last year, also ended up at the top of the cake, I'd recommend using mini-chocolate chips (I read that somewhere as a recommendation for bundt cakes in general) or you could try Maren's suggestion of melting the chocolate.