Monday, October 11, 2010

New Favorite Cake

Let’s talk cake today, shall we?

Hands down, chocolate is my favorite flavor in all the world, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is the best snack or dessert (or breakfast!)anytime, anyplace.

There is much to be said for lemon, though. I love a sweet, tangy lemon cake with lemon icing. Yum – my mouth is watering just because I typed that last sentence. Others that I like are Italian Cream Cake (smooth and creamy and vanilla-y), Carrot Cake (a little spicy, nutty, and cream cheese frosting – yum).

A few weeks ago I found myself planning a few birthday cakes. The first, Brad’s, was easy – it had to be chocolate for his first birthday. 10-02-10 155We had buttercream frosting and fondant balls for decorations. It was festive, cute, and tasty.

The second, to celebrate my BIL Randy’s 50th birthday was easy-peasy. He got apple pies. I confess that I did bake those pies, but Marie Callander actually made them. They, too, were delicious.

The third cake was more of a challenge. I wanted something a little sophisticated for my FIL’s  birthday, yet it needed to be easy and simple. I asked for ideas and was told “just not chocolate”. That was covered by Brad’s cake, so not a problem. What to make for a man from the South celebrating his 75th?  There were a few more suggestions, but nothing that sounded “right”. On my way home from work just a few days before the party, it came to me – Maple Walnut! It would be autumnal and Southern and grown-up. Just what I was looking for.

As soon as I got home, I Googled for recipes, and when I found this blog with a recipe for cake with maple-flavored icing and walnuts decorating the sides, I knew the quest was over.

I made a 10” double layer plain white cake (yes, from a mix). The maple frosting mixed up easily. Oh, it was sweet and maple-y and so good!

small maple cake

Pressing the walnuts to the sides wasn’t quite so simple,but a little star border around the bottom took care of the “messies” I made. Next time I will chop the nuts a little finer and coat the top, instead.

There was none of this cake left after the birthday party and I got lots of compliments.

I’m including the frosting recipe as it was printed on that blog, but if you want the entire recipe for the cake and all, go visit The Well-Seasoned Cook.

American Buttercream Frosting (Maple)
[This is a standard recipe, using all butter and no trans-fat shortening. If you are not fond of the metallic gritty sweetness of confectioners sugar, you can use glazing sugar, a powdered sugar without cornstarch. King Arthur carries it.]
½ pound butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioners sugar (or more)
¼ cup milk (or more)
1 Tablespoon natural maple extract (much more highly concentrated than maple syrup)
In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy and fluffy. Add sugar one cup at a
time, beating well between additions. Keep beating until all the sugar is absorbed. Add extract and milk, and resume beating until frosting is smooth
and light. Frosting consistency is a matter of taste. You can easily add more sugar to thicken. You can also stretch your ingredients by adding more sugar and milk incrementally until you have doubled the volume. This is especially useful if you have a large cake to frost and don't want to increase an already high fat content. Keep frosting tightly covered until ready to use to prevent sugar crust. Buttercream does not have to be refrigerated, but should be kept in a cool place so it doesn't melt.
After filling and decorating the assembled layers, gently press approximately 1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts into the sides of cake. Cake
will develop a natural sugar crust while standing; this is perfectly harmless and adds to its character. Cover with a large inverted plastic bowl to keep it fresh.