Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bundt Cake Season Two

Here are the bundt cakes of Bundt Cake Season Two. I had to scour my old Facebook posts to find out what I made and when. The date listed is the date I posted about it, so it may or may not be the actual date I baked the cake.

#1 - Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Pound Cake. This bundt cake is an an orange-flavored cake with bits of chocolate (rather than an orange-chocolate cake) and the hazelnuts are ground up, rather than in bits. I believe the purpose of grinding them was to for it have a hazelnut flavor throughout. If I were to make it again, I think I'd just chop the hazelnuts. I don't remember the cake being particularly hazelnut-y, so I'd probably rather just have chunks of hazelnuts instead. (1/2/10) The recipe for this was from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.

#2 - Cocoa Apple Cake. I was intrigued by the idea of chocolate and apples together, turns out it's quite tasty. It's got a bit of a Mexican chocolate flavor, there's allspice, in addition to, the cinnamon (and of course, cocoa) in the batter. The cake has dark chocolate chips and a mix of almonds, walnuts, & pecans as well as the aforementioned apples. (1/25/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook (put out by Nordic Ware, maker of many bundt pans, including mine).

#3 - Chocolate Ribbon Pound Cake. It's delicious, even if the ripple effect did not work out. (I realized later that I had accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder, so I'm guessing that's why the ripple did not work--all the ripple bits sunk to the bottom, meaning they ended up at the top of the cake.) This is a sour cream poundcake (super moist!) with orange, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans, topped with an orange glaze. So good! I think that this may have been my favorite cake of BCS2. (2/1/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook.

#4 - Date Walnut Bourbon Cake. And yes, I picked a bourbon cake in honor of the Saints. I don't really remember much about this cake, except, the glaze needed at least twice as much bourbon as suggested in the recipe. It was a perfectly fine cake. (2/7/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook.

#5 - Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Cake. This was the most highly anticipated cake of BCS2. A friend from Oakland offered to procure the Meyer lemons called for in the recipe, so I would have the real deal. The best part was that instead of buying them, she pilfered them from a neighbor's tree, which made them extra special in my book. I'm sorry to report that I was somewhat disappointed in this one (probably because my expectations were so high). It looked lovely, though. And the Main Squeeze and his brother liked it. In fact, everyone else who tried it, liked it. So clearly, I'm the weirdo. What can I say? It was a bit dry to me. I still think I'd like to give it another whirl at some point in the future. (3/1/10) I found this recipe on the Food Network's web site while searching for bundt cake recipes.

[In one of those serendipitous moments, I was listening to Car Talk on NPR, when they mentioned bundt cakes! Now, as those of you who are familiar with the show know, they have been known to recommend bringing your mechanic sweets to get on his (or her) good side. Imagine my happy surprise when I heard the Car Talk guys recommend bringing a bundt cake if you really need to bamboozle your mechanic. "Brownies are fine for a simple job, but if you really want to throw them off, bring a bundt cake." (Not an exact quote, I don't think, but as close as I could remember.) No, I didn't actually bring my mechanics a bundt cake, but I have brought them donuts before. Here's a fun fact: I was on Car Talk, back in '98, I believe it was. (3/6/10)]

# 6 - Mexican Chocolate Cake. I did not love this cake. It was pretty boring. The glaze (just a simple chocolate & cinnamon one) was a hit with our guests that evening. The recipe was for bundt cup cakes (I should get a bundt cupcake pan.), but I just made it in my regular bundt pan. It was on the small side. (3/7/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook.

# 7 - Black Mocha Cake with a Chocolate-Kaluha Glaze (which turned out to be more of a ganache). Although a bit of an aesthetic mess, it is quite moist and delicious. This is actually a repeat from BCS1. This is one of the few bundt cake recipes that I've found that isn't a pound cake or pound-cake adjacent. It's like a regular chocolate cake. And the glaze I stole from a different cake (the Chocolate Grand Marnier cake that started Bundt Cake Season) and substituted Kaluha for Grand Marnier, since we were having Mexican food for dinner. The reason it was a bit of an aesthetic mess, was because I had asked the Main Squeeze to take it out of the oven for me, and he misunderstood my instructions--he turned it out of the pan immediately, rather than letting it cool for 10 minutes or so, first. It was still very tasty, so no harm done. (3/15/10) The recipe for this was from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.

#8 -Cocoa Ripple Currant Cake. This time, the ripple actually worked! In fact, it's a double ripple. This cake was made using my brand new, totally amazing, KitchenAid 90th Anniversary Stand Mixer, which many folks chipped in to get me for my 40th birthday. Depending on the weather, this could have been the last bundt cake of the season, though there was one more I want to squeeze in... (4/20/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook.

#9 - Cranberry Pecan Cake with an Orange Glaze. Tasty, but I should have made the glaze thicker so there could be more of it. I actually took a chance and changed the recipe--I substituted butter for shortening (I am wary of shortening)--and it turned out fine. (4/28/10) The recipe for this was from the Bundt Cookbook.

And so ended Bundt Cake Season Two. As you can see, Bundt Cake Season Two was shorter than Season one--though I made more cakes in BCS2 (nine) than BCS1 (seven--though one was made twice, so one could argue that there were eight cakes in BCS1)--running from January through April vs. late November through mid-May. So, as you can see, Bundt Cake Season is a moving target.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bundt Cake Season One

This post also appeared in my other (very neglected) blog last spring. So for those of you trying to keep track of where we are, Bundt Cake Season had its intital run in 2008-2009.

Having established the history of Bundt Cake Season, I thought I'd share the cakes of the first Bundt Cake Season. Unfortunately, after all this time, I do not remember the exact order of the cakes--I actually had to refer to my two bundt cake recipe sources to jog my memory of which cakes I made last season. So here's the list, in no particular order:

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake - This is the cake that started it all, the one brought to Thanksgiving. I recall that it was well received. It has a chocolate & Grand Marnier glaze. Need I say more?

Irish Whiskey Cake - I made this for the Main Squeeze's dad's birthday (which falls shortly after Christmas). It's really just a fancy fruit cake--but with real (dried) fruit (which are soaked in whiskey), not that scary artificial-colored stuff you find in traditional fruit cakes. And this one was tasty, again, unlike traditional fruit cakes.

Honey Cake - A bit of a disappointment, actually. The farm where we have had our summer farm share would sell really fabulous honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah, and I was hoping to replicate that. No dice. My search for a fabulous honey cake recipe continues.

Black Mocha Cake - I don't have much memory of this one. I think it was totally serviceable. Clearly, I should make it again sometime to refresh my memory.

Pecan Cardamon Poundcake - My favorite of Bundt Cake Season One, by far. It was so good, I made it a second time for a pot luck. So. Good. I think it's the coffee glaze that tips the scale to awesomeness.

Brandied Raisin Sour Cream Pound Cake - Another one that does not stand out for me. Again, totally serviceable, but nothing to write home about, I guess.

Nutty Orange Cake - this was the only cake I made from my Bundt Cookbook (which is put out by Nordic Ware, the company that makes many bundt cake pans, including mine) last season. It was delicious! You line the pan with ground nuts (and other ingredients, I just don't remember what exactly--breadcrumbs and butter, probably) so you end up with this really lovely nut topping when you turn it out. The orange flavor was good too.

And that's it. As for length of Bundt Cake Season One, it started in November and ran through mid-May.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bundt Cake Season: The Beginning

This post originally appeared on my other (terribly neglected) blog this past February; however, it obviously needed to be posted here as well.

I'm not sure exactly why it came up, but a couple of years ago, while visiting with the Main Squeeze's relatives, it was mentioned how, years ago (I think it was about 30) the Main Squeeze's uncle was aghast at the cost of his wife's recent purchase: a bundt pan. But over time, he had come to see the error of his ways, because he had enjoyed so many delicious cakes from that very pan. It turned out to be money well spent.

This conversation got me to thinking. You see, I do not have a particularly strong sweet tooth. ( I don't dislike sweet things, but they are not my weakness.) I did not grow up in a home where we had dessert regularly, nor were baked goods usually to be found. They were an occasional item, and therefore a special treat. And I have, in the past, found iced cakes to be too sweet. Now, that could very well be due to too many grocery store bakery cakes, which I find too sweet--the icing is so sweet, it makes the roof of my mouth itch-- and too boring and so not worth the calories. (I might have even said, on occasion, that I didn't really like cake.) But bundt cakes, on the other hand, are usually not cloyingly sweet. So the mention of the bundt pan set off this light bulb, "Hey, I like bundt cakes. They're not too sweet. And they're kind of retro. I should get a bundt pan." What made this idea especially perfect, is that I had some graduation money from the aforementioned aunt and uncle and I had been waiting for the right thing to spend it on, and a bundt pan would definitely fit that bill.

I had actually seen the bundt pan I wanted at the fancy kitchen store in town probably a year before I bought it. It caught my eye because it was so lovely. Initially, I couldn't rationalize buying an expensive bundt pan, since I'm not a big baker (this was before the aunt-uncle-bundt-pan-light-bulb moment.) Then, after I decided getting a bundt pan was a good idea, I wavered on getting the specific one that I wanted, because it's a ten-cup pan, and most recipes are for a twelve-cup pan. Eventually, I just said screw it, I'm getting the fancy bundt pan that I want and we'll see how the cakes work out.

So, two Novembers ago, graduation cash in hand, I went to the fancy kitchen store and bought the fancy bundt pan I had been coveting. (This is it, in case you are wondering. I had forgotten it's the Bavarian Bundt Pan, which is hilarious and fitting, since my heritage is predominately German.)

My first bundt cake was made for Thanksgiving, which we were celebrating with the Main Squeeze's family that year. (A funny aside, the Main Squeeze was not terribly pleased that I was bringing this bundt cake to Thanksgiving, because "Thanksgiving is pie's holiday," and this cake was clearly encroaching on pie's big day.) I wanted to show the Main Squeeze's aunt and uncle what I had used the graduation money for, so in spite of a certain person's protestations, I brought a bundt cake to Thanksgiving.

And thus began, what would turn out to be, the first Bundt Cake Season.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Do Bundt Cakes Need a Season?

You may be asking, "But, Tamatha, bundt cakes are delicious, why do they have to be restricted to a specific season?" The answer is simple, when it's hot outside, the last thing you should be doing is baking something for a good hour.

Bundt cakes usually fall on the denser end of the cake spectrum, and therefore require long baking times. The warm days of late spring and early fall, and the freakin' hot days of summer are not the time to be heating your house from the inside! Also, I'm a fan of a more seasonal approach to cooking. When it's chilly out and you're all cozy, that's when you want a delicious slice of bundt cake. The summer is a time for delightful strawberry shortcake or a huge bowl of cherries or a sweet-tangy rhubarb pie baked by a friend (I'm afraid of pie crusts; I don't make pies). These things are all the more enjoyable because you don't have them all the time, but are, instead, reserved for certain times of year.

So that's why there's a Bundt Cake Season.