What do you do if your only daughter asks for a specific cake for her 6th birthday? You ask her to draw it for you with a description and then do your best to match it!
I will admit that this was difficult for me as I am not the best cake baker and really have no clue when it comes to decorating cakes. Someday, when I have time, I plan to remedy that by learning how, but right now, I just practice on my kids. They don’t seem to mind my attempts.
I don’t think I ever posted about Rhys’s birthday cake. His birthday was last month before Thanksgiving. He wanted a chocolate mint cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate shards. I wish now that I had written a post because it is a cake I’d make again and I don’t remember any of the recipes I used!
Gwen wrote this as part of a school assignment I gave her. She also watched me make and decorate the cake. I think she was making sure I was doing it correctly!
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This post was written by our 15-year-old son, Corran. He has expressed an interest in cooking and baking, and he has actually been a big help to me in the kitchen lately. As he says, this cake was very yummy, but with our large family, it was gone in a few minutes! Fortunately, we had some leftover dinner rolls that Corran made last night for anyone who was still hungry. Corran will probably be posting often as his interests also run to video games, which would be a good addition to our “Geeky” section!
A couple days ago, I was looking through Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan when I saw a recipe for a marble cake. I like the way marble cakes look, and it didn’t seem too hard, so I tried my hand at it.
This recipe used quite a bit of chocolate. Normally marble cakes are made by swirling together a white cake and a chocolate cake, but this one used white chocolate in the white portion. I thought it was interesting how the cake was formed; you separate the two batters and drop spoonfuls of each into the pan, then zigzag a knife through it a couple times. It wasn’t as swirly as I would have liked, but it still looked cool.
I’m not sure how often I can make it though, as it uses quite a few ingredients and takes about 2-3 hours, but with how many of us there are it was gone in 15 minutes. If I do make it again, I’d like to add mocha to the chocolate portion and cardamom to the white.
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I have mentioned before that cake, specifically layer cakes, is not my forte. Just because it is not my forte though does not mean that I should not make one once in a while.
For our Easter lunch a few weeks ago, I wanted to make a cake. At first, it was just going to be a lime bundt cake. I had some homemade strawberry jam though in the fridge that I needed to use for something, so then I came up with the bright idea of a lime layer cake with strawberry jam and white chocolate frosting in the middle.
I had been itching to make a lime cake recipe I found on the internet for quite a while, so I was glad to finally have the chance to make it!
I didn’t get to take any pictures of the actual process of making this cake, but I can talk a little bit about some of my mistakes (which always seem to be many when I am baking a cake!).
Mistake number one: I didn’t use enough lime zest! I think I used the 6 key limes as stated in the recipe, but I don’t think I ended up with enough lime zest. I probably also should have used a little bit more lime juice. The cake itself definitely needed more oomph to it.
Mistake number two: Sprinkling day-old lime zest on the frosted cake. The lime zest lost its bright green color overnight. I don’t think I need to say what it looked like after sitting in the fridge overnight. I really should have used fresh zest on the cake.
Mistake number three: I thought the cake layers were flat enough after baking and that I didn’t need to level them. I was wrong. I really should have sliced off just a little bit. Because the top of the bottom layer wasn’t flat, the strawberry jam in the middle of the cake kept trying to slide out and down the side of the cake.
Mistake number four: Not doing a crumb coat when frosting. I was in a hurry. I guess I really shouldn’t make cakes when I am in a hurry. Or maybe I should just stick to bundt cakes!
Mistake number five: Using white chocolate buttercream frosting. Because the cake needed more lime flavor and thus wasn’t tart enough, the whole cake was too sweet and just didn’t have enough variances in flavor for me. A cream cheese frosting might have worked better in this case.
Mistake number six: Inferior chocolate candy eggs for the decoration. Those candy eggs in the picture were quite literally only for decoration. I bought them in bulk from a nearby grocery store and they just didn’t taste very good! Even Josh didn’t like them and that is saying something right there!
There weren’t any complaints from the kids about the cake itself, and none from Josh, so that is a good thing. I have to admit though; I think the key lime-mint bundt cake I posted about more than a month ago is still my favorite cake I’ve made so far.
Maybe I will try this recipe again when I am making a cake only for my family. And when I can taste more than one slice!
Yes, it is yet another Bundt Cake post! I promise that my next baking post will be about something different (Macarons.. are those different?). I know that I said in my Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake post that I wasn’t too thrilled with this cake, but it could be that I just wasn’t in the mood for chocolate that day. The important thing about this recipe is that my family loved it, and it was gone in two days. I usually know that a recipe is good if it doesn’t last very long at my house. In this case, I let my kids eat this cake for breakfast… I know, this cake isn’t for breakfast, Lynn, what are you thinking!? Here’s my reasoning: We eat those huge chocolate muffins from Costco… eating chocolate cake for breakfast isn’t any different, right?
I am not a fan of cereal in general. I do love Quaker Oatmeal Squares, but it is so rarely on sale that we don’t always have it around. The day after I made this cake, I just didn’t want cereal… So let them eat cake it is! Don’t let my kids tell you about the time they had candy for dinner (Josh was deployed…) or the time they had ice cream for dinner (hmm… that also might have been when Josh was deployed). But you know what? They still talk about those “dinners!” It’s funny what kids remember.
Today’s cake comes courtesy of Corran, my oldest, who requests chocolate in almost everything I bake, like the cinnamon rolls I made today. Sorry, Corran, I didn’t put chocolate in the cinnamon rolls.
This time I dusted my bundt pan with cocoa powder instead of flour. This worked a lot better than I thought it would. You will see why I say this in a few pictures.
The chocolate cake batter was very liquid-y (is that a word?). I think I’ve gotten too used to the sponge cakes I’ve been making lately; they have such a thick batter. The pictures of the batter at the recipe site don’t look quite as runny as my batter does, so maybe I did something wrong. It still baked up fine though.
The cake finished up huge! I’m so so glad it didn’t overflow onto the bottom of my oven. I might need to get out my old, beat-up bundt pan the next time I make this. I think that one has a 12-cup capacity.
It is not obvious from the above picture… but see the cooling rack? The cake was supposed to be on the cooling rack for this picture. But when I flipped the rack and the pan over, I wasn’t expecting the cake to fall out so fast and it landed on the worktable instead. So the cocoa powder worked great. I’m glad the cake didn’t land on the floor! And that it stayed mostly in one piece. What you don’t see in this picture: Children rushing into the kitchen to eat chocolate cake crumbs off the worktable. Um.. Kids, if you wait until after dinner, you can have a whole slice…
I think the chocolate glaze I used for this cake is supposed to be the fast version of a boiled chocolate icing. It worked great and hardened perfectly. If I ever make donuts (which my kids have requested numerous times), I will use this icing on them! The donuts, not the kids.
I globbedy-gooked the icing onto the cake, and I let my kids pick the completely unnecessary sprinkles to go on this cake. And of course, they chose chocolate!
I actually remembered to take a picture of a slice this time! I think the cake could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but at least it wasn’t totally underbaked. It was definitely moist and definitely chocolatey. And definitely got eaten up like lightning.
It is not completely obvious within my blog posts about baking, but a lot of my posts are requests from my kids. Since they eat most of what I bake, I try to make sure it is something they will like. Unless it’s macarons… I don’t really want them to eat all the macarons.
This bundt cake flavor comes courtesy of my son Matthias. I think he was wanting a flavor similar to a maple frosted donut. I certainly did my best to fulfill his request!
I know that bundt cakes LOVE to stick to pans, so I thought I’d also mention my technique for greasing my Nordicware bundt pans. This particular pan is the 10 cup Heritage pan. I also have a smaller 6 cup Heritage pan, but I haven’t used that one yet.
To grease your bundt cake pan and hopefully end up with a flawless bundt pan flip, here is what you need:
1 Tbsp of very soft butter, but not melted. If your butter is right out of the fridge, you can microwave it for about 15-20 seconds to soften it enough.
1 pastry brush
I apologize for my very ugly pastry brush in this pic. It needs to be retired. In fact, we were at a restaurant supply store a few weeks ago and I bought a new nylon pastry brush and a gorgeous stainless steel worktable! By the way, restaurant supply stores are awesome. I could have stayed there all day! I just didn’t have the new brush at this time so had to use the ugly old one. I have tried a silicone brush but it just couldn’t get into all the details of the pan. So I ended up with this.
Lesson learned: use only a traditional pastry brush or a nylon brush for greasing bundt cake pans.
Usually, I find greasing pans tedious, but somehow greasing my bundt pans is now fun! I guess it is because I feel like I’m painting. Which is basically what you’re doing! You paint the butter into the pan using the pastry brush, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. I think I may try this method with my plain round cake pans.
Then comes the flouring part. I usually just toss a random amount of flour into the pan. Probably close to a tablespoon or two. Shake the pan at an angle over a sink, turning the pan to get the flour all around the pan and onto the butter.
After tapping tapping tapping, your pan will look like this.
I think I might be weird because I don’t like it when my pan looks like this after flouring. So I turn it upside-down over my sink and tap the edge of the pan on the wall of the sink. All the excess flour falls right out into the sink and you end up with a clean finish.
I know this seems like a lot of trouble to go to for greasing and flouring a bundt pan, but this method hasn’t failed me yet.
Now to the actual cake!
I decided on a cinnamon swirl coffee cake with a mascarpone maple frosting. I modified both recipes quite a bit so I will be posting them at the end. The original recipes are from Allrecipes.com and The Local Palate.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
First, we begin as most cakes do, with beating the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Then, add the eggs. The texture of the batter might worry you a little at this point. (Why does it look curdled?) But it all smooths out at the end.
Then, add the flour and raising agents.
I like the look of this type of cake batter better than the very liquidy type. Maybe I’m just a big fan of pound cake. Spoon half the batter into the bundt pan.
Sprinkle all the cinnamon mixture over this first layer.
Spoon the other half of the batter over the cinnamon mixture and swirl a knife through it. I made the mistake of using a spatula. That didn’t work so well. I should have used a knife.
Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 more minutes.
When a tester comes out clean, your cake is done.
Now to the moment of truth! But not for another 10 minutes. I leave the pan on my stovetop or a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes before tipping out the cake. But… you don’t want to wait too long. It seems that bundt cakes come out better if the pan is still warm.
This cake came out a little rough around the edges but I think that is because I didn’t spread the batter into the pan as well as I should have. I think it looks a lot like a cruller though this way!
I had a whole container of mascarpone cheese in the fridge so I went for a full mascarpone frosting instead of mixing it with cream cheese. My kids now have a name for this frosting: maple donut frosting. I piped the frosting onto the cake using the star tip of my Wilton Dessert Decorator. Usually, I can’t use this for decorating because the tips are so huge, but it worked well for this cake.
Note: Apparently, regular Wilton tips can be used with this decorator. I haven’t tried those yet. Will have to see how they work.
As you can see, I didn’t have much of a swirl…. probably because of my attempt to use a spatula instead of a knife to swirl the batter. This cake was very, very yummy though and certainly didn’t last long! I think it was completely gone the next morning after breakfast!
I wasn’t completely happy with the frosting. It’s a little too shiny (or maybe the word is oily-looking?) for me, but my kids loved it. At least they were happy with it!
Here is the recipe!
Maple Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Maple Mascarpone Frosting
Note: Not everyone will have the maple sugar for the cinnamon mixture, so it can be left out. Also, because of the mascarpone frosting, I would not feel comfortable keeping this cake on the counter for more than a day.