Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bundt Cake #15 of Bundt Cake Season 3: Strawberry Champagne Mini Bundts with Strawberry Champagne Buttercream Frosting

I have dubbed these bundt cakes "the bundt cakes that keep on giving." In addition to the bundt cakes themselves, a couple of leftover ingredients were turned into a cocktail and a cookie. respectively. (I'll be including those recipes too.)

Back in May when I was on a roll updating this blog, I was drawn to this recipe as I flipped past it (I was looking for the recipes for previous bundt cakes), and decided that it had to be made. I was a bit hesitant to use a good champagne (or proseco, as you're much more likely to find in our home) in a cake, but then I came up with a perfect solution. You see, the Main Squeeze's dad routinely gives me a bottle of strawberry champagne for Christmas (which makes excellent strawberry mimosas, but I can only drink so many of those) and I had acquired a collection of them. I figured that strawberry champagne would work delightfully in this recipe (and, truth be told, I was hoping for a delicate pink colored cake--which, unfortunately, didn't happen).

It was with this cake that I also learned that I am not a fan of buttercream frosting. It's just too sweet for me (and maybe too rich)--in a way that cream cheese frosting is not. It's funny, because I am a fan of butter. But not, as it turns out, buttercream frosting.

The bundt cakes themselves were delicious. On a couple of mornings I had half a mini bundt for breakfast, they were that good.

If you don't have a bottle of strawberry champagne at home, please feel free to use your favorite type of bubbly.

Here's the recipe from Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson

Champagne Syrup (for the cake and the frosting)
1/2 cup champagne or sparking wine (I, of course, used strawberry champagne)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • In a small saucepan, bring champagne and sugar to a boil.
  • Once the sugar dissolves, and the mixture is clear, boil an additional minute.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. You have to cool the syrup before adding it to the batter or frosting.

Cake Ingredients
2 1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup champagne or sparkling wine
3/4 cup whole milk (I just used low-fat milk and it worked fine)
5 tablespoons champagne syrup


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift flour and baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  • Beat butter until soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes.
  • Crack eggs into a separate bowl and add to the batter one at a time. Then beat on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Combine vanilla, champagne, and milk. The mild will start to curdle. Don't worry this is normal. The acidity of the champagne and the carbonation are reacting with the dairy.
  • Beginning and ending with the flour, mix 1/3 of the flour into the wet mixture, then 1/2 of the milk, alternating until all ingredients are mixed.
  • Fold 5 tablespoons of champagne syrup into the batter.
  • Transfer batter to cake pan(s) that have been coated with baker's cooking spray, filling until cavity is 3/4 full.
  • Bake cake(s) until an inserted toothpick or cake tester (I just use a table knife) comes out clean. A regular-sized bundt should take about 40 minutes and 18-22 minutes for mini bundts.
  • Invert cake(s) onto a cooling rack or serving plate. If cake resists, cool in pan for 15 minutes
  • and try again. If it still being stubborn wait an additional 15 minutes.
  • Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Champagne Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 2 1/2 tablespoons of champagne syrup*
  • With an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed.
  • Turn mixer speed to low, then slowly add powdered sugar.
  • When sugar is fully incorporated, add vanilla.
  • Then add champagne syrup starting with 1 teaspoon and using up to 2 1/2 tablespoons to thin frosting to spreading consistency.* Mix on a medium speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
* I used a *lot* more than 2 1/2 tablespoons of the champagne syrup. And I could have used more, so I'd recommend starting with a tablespoon and adding a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. Personally, I just ended up pouring a whole bunch in. And didn't end up with a too-thin frosting. I also wanted the frosting to be pink (because of the strawberry champagne syrup) and when I didn't get that from the syrup itself, I added a little red food coloring to get the desired color.

Because I felt that the buttercream frosting overwhelmed the delicateness of the cakes, I only iced seven of them. When I make these cakes in the future, I'll either leave them plain--they were delicious unadorned--or I'll make a champagne glaze. I wouldn't use the champagne syrup in the glaze, because that would be too sweet. Instead I think I'd use the following recipe (that I've made up based on other glazes I've made, but have no idea if it'd work/be tasty).

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon of butter, softened
2 to 4 tablespoons of champagne (in this case, strawberry champagne)

  • In a small bowl, combine sugar and butter. Add champagne gradually to achieve desired consistency and stir until smooth.
  • I would expect this glaze to have a slightly pink hue from the strawberry champagne, which I think would be lovely.
* * *

As I mentioned earlier, I ended up with some leftover ingredients from these mini bundts, namely Champagne Syrup and Champagne Buttercream Frosting. Never one to let something like that to go to waste, I quickly came up with ways to use both.

When my mom came to visit me the following weekend, I mixed us up a couple of cocktails with the leftover champagne syrup (which kept just fine in the fridge). I got the idea for the cocktail from one of my favorites, which is the French 75, which is a combination of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, & champagne. I wanted to add a fresh herb, and originally thought of mint (which I think would be delicious), but wanted something a little different. I asked the Main Squeeze if he thought rosemary would work, and he said yes--especially since he's heard of a rosemary strawberry shortcake. So that decided that.

I'll give you the recipe I used, and then the tweaked version I'd use the next time. I started by muddling some fresh rosemary in the bottom of a Boston-style shaker, to which I added ice. Then I put in an ounce of strawberry champagne syrup and an ounce of Beefeater gin. I shook those with the ice until everything was quite chilled, and strained the contents into a old-fashioned glass (so a short one, not a tall one), topped with seltzer, added some of the crushed rosemary from the shaker, stirred it, and added a bunch of crushed ice.

The Main Squeeze tasted it and suggested that given the flavors of the rosemary and strawberry that a gin with more botanicals would work even better. We actually own such a gin, Ethereal Gin, a limited edition put out by Berkshire Mountain Distillers in Great Barrington, MA. So I used that in the second one I made, and it was delicious. So, should you want to make this cocktail yourself, a straight-up gin is fine, but if you have one with stronger botanical flavors, I recommend using that.

I didn't think to take a picture until *after* the ice had melted, but you get the general idea.

The only problem with the drink was that it was a little too sweet, so the next time, I'd cut down on the champagne syrup and add a splash of strawberry champagne to get the same level of strawberry champagne flavor. Also, the little rosemary leaves weren't so pleasant, so I'd leave them on the stem and just add a fresh sprig to the drink. Here's the (untested) revised version.

Fill an old-fashioned glass with crushed ice
In a a cocktail shaker, muddle a sprig or two (depending on size) of fresh rosemary
Add ice to shaker
Add 1 ounce gin (preferably one with a strong botanical flavor)
Add 1/2 ounce of strawberry champagne syrup
Shake until your hand is very cold
Strain into the glass.
Add a generous splash of strawberry champagne
Top with seltzer to taste
Stir and add a sprig of rosemary

* * *

As for the extra strawberry buttercream frosting, I thought it was good, I just didn't particularly like it on the cake, and I didn't want it to go to waste. I thought of something I had done years ago to use up extra frosting: make fancy "oreos"--so chocolate wafer sandwich cookies with frosting in between. I decided against buying pre-made chocolate wafer cookies and instead thought I'd try my hand at making some from scratch.

I found a recipe online on JoyofBaking .com. The cookies were very tasty (and as crumbly as the recipe author warned) but weren't quite as thin as I might have liked. I think next time I'll just buy the chocolate wafer cookies at the store, but I recommend these in general for being delightfully crispy and chocolatey. The recipe calls for half butter and half margarine, but I used all butter, because I don't believe in margarine.

Chocolate Wafers from
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I highly recommend the Dutch-processed kind)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons margarine (I just used 6 tablespoons of butter)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg white

  • In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and margarine until well blended.
  • Add the sugars and vanilla extract and beat on high speed for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Beat in the egg white.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
  • Place the dough on your counter and, using your hands, evenly form the dough into a log shape that is about 9 inches (23 cm) long.
  • Carefully wrap the dough in aluminum foil, parchment paper or wax paper and fold or twist the ends. Try not to flatten the log.
  • Refrigerate until firm. This will take several hours or you can even chill it overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice the log into about 1/4 inch thick wafers.
  • Place the wafers on the baking sheet spacing, about 1 inch apart.
  • Bake for approximately 10 - 12 minutes or until the the cookies puff and the tops of the cookies have cracks (ripples).
  • Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10 days. They can also be frozen.

To make strawberry champagne buttercream sandwich cookies, take two cookies, spread a generous amount of frosting on the bottom of one cookie (use your judgement) and top with the second cookie. Continue until you run out of frosting or cookies.

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