Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kentucky Cake

A couple of milestones in this post: 1) I believe we've had the blog going for a year now! Happy birthday to us. 2) I have officially closed out a section of the book: this is the last of the layer cakes! And hooray for that, in my humble opinion. Though I love cake, layer cakes can be a PITA. They make a ton, so you need a special occasion to make them. And you have to frost them. Frosting cakes is my bane. I almost always have someone else do it for me. Let's just say that I'm not a food stylist.
However, I got lucky on this cake, even though it's a big project: it was Dad's birthday, and we were having lots of dinner guests. Also, it turns out that Sharmyn is an expert cake froster. Finally, and most importantly, even though I had huge doubts about this recipe, it was really delicious!
The cake has two entirely different layers, which means mixing and baking one layer, washing the mixer, and starting again. One layer, which you'll see most of, is the dark layer: it's kind of a spice cake with chopped raisins, just to bring joy to Alicia's heart.

Mmm...spicy, raisin-y goodness.

When the cake comes out of the oven, you can choose to brush it with bourbon. Dad had this ancient bottle of Ten High that dates back probably to the 80s (my grandmother was a bourbon drinker, but no one else in the family touches it), so it had lots of flavor but probably little alcohol. I recommend the bourbon option.

There's also a "white layer;" this is lemon cake. I had trouble with this one, probably because my butter wasn't up to temperature. Dad asked if it was a tortilla. Not a good sign.
The batter was so stiff that the egg whites lost all their lift. If I were to make this again, I would do the Cake Bible reverse creaming method: make sure the butter is totally room temperature, then mix together all the dry ingredients, including the sugar; mix in the butter and half of the wet ingredients and beat for a couple of minutes; then add the remaining wet ingredients in 2-3 additions and beat for a long time until very fluffy. It makes a very tender cake and probably would have worked like a charm here.

The cake is filled and frosted with a fabulous 7-minute frosting. The recipe makes twice as much as you'll need. Didn't Sharmyn do a great job?

After a certain number of birthdays, you only need one candle.

You see the two layers: the white layer doesn't seem quite as puny now. Everyone seemed to really enjoy this, and indeed it's not your typical birthday cake.

Here's the recipe. Make it when you have a lot of time and a lot of guests.

Kentucky Cake

3 oz. (6 T.) butter, softened (you'll need 6 oz. butter all together, so go ahead and get 2 sticks out of the fridge)
1/4 t. salt
1/3 t. (do your best with a 1 t. measure) baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. mace (if you don't have mace, use a little more nutmeg)
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/3 c. (2.3 oz) brown sugar
2 large egg yolks (save the whites for the other layer)
1/3 c. (2.7 oz.) buttermilk
1/3 c. (3.8 oz.) molasses
1 c. (4 oz) sifted flour
1/3 c. (1.7 oz) raisins, chopped fairly fine
1 T. bourbon (optional)
2 T. blackberry jam (optional)

Heat the oven to 375. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment circles, and grease and flour them again. Set them aside.
Cream the butter with the salt, baking powder, and spices until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat 2-3 minutes until fluffy again. Add the egg yolks and once again give that a good beating. On low speed beat in the buttermilk and molasses just until incorporated, then give the bowl a good scraping before adding the flour and again mixing just until barely incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and add the raisins.
Pour this into one of the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Cool for 2-3 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Brush the cake with bourbon while it is still warm. If you want to do a layer of blackberry jam (not part of Maida's recipe, but really good), heat the jam for about 30 seconds in the microwave, then spread it over the cake.
Now wash your mixer bowl and get ready for the second layer.

3 oz. (6 T.) butter, room temperature
1/8 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 t. lemon extract (probably worth getting for this recipe)
2/3 c. (4.6 oz) sugar
Grated rind of 1 large lemon
1/3 c. (2.7 oz.) milk
1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
2 egg whites
1 T. bourbon (optional)

I'm giving the directions more or less as they are in the book, but if you are familiar with the reverse creaming method, let me once again recommend that you try that.
Cream the butter with the salt and baking powder. Then add the vanilla and lemon extracts, sugar, and lemon rind and beat for 2-3 minutes until very fluffy. On low speed, gradually mix in 1/3 of the flour, then the milk, then the remaining flour. Now, in a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they hold a firm shape. Bit by bit, fold the egg whites into the butter mixture, trying to keep as much of the air as possible. Gently pour into the second prepared pan and bake that for 25 minutes (mine took only 20 minutes), again until the cake springs back when pressed gently.
Let the cake stand for a couple of minutes, then turn out to cool on a rack. Brush with the bourbon while the cake is still warm.
While the cake layers are cooling, take a deep breath and get ready to make 7-minute icing.

4 egg whites (about 1/2 c.; if you have leftover egg whites in your freezer, this is a good use for them. Just thaw them first.)
1-1/2 c. (10.5 oz) sugar
1/4 c. + 1 T. (2.5 oz.) cold water (I used about 2 T. lemon juice as part of this)
1 t. cream of tartar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. lemon extract

Get out a fairly large bowl that fits over an even larger pot. Basically, you're going to form a sort of double boiler. Also get out a handheld electric mixer. If you have a double boiler, it's probably too small for this application. Put enough water in the pot so that the bowl does not touch the water, and heat the water to a simmer over medium heat.
Put the egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl and put that over the water. Turn on the mixer and immediately start beating the egg whites at high speed for about 5 minutes; the mixture will form stiff peaks. Take the bowl off the water and add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Beat for a couple more minutes. You'll want to use this quickly.
Put the dark layer on your cake plate and put a fairly thick layer of frosting on that. Top with the white layer and frost the cake however you feel is appropriate. Enjoy the remaining frosting in your favorite way--we enjoyed it over graham crackers.
Serve with or without birthday candles to your appreciative guests.

1 comment:

  1. It was mouth-wateringly delicious! I especially liked the frosting; not sickly sweet like some.