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Entries in cakes (63)

Monday
May232011

Sweet Mystery: Lowry's Fudge Cake Recipe and Story

Recently, I came into contact with a new type of cake: Lowry's Fudge Cake. Or was it Lowery's? I'm not completely sure, because based on anecdotal evidence, I see it both ways.

To the best of my sweet sleuthing, this cake--really more like bar cookies, really--made a name for itself in the kitchen of the Lowry's Motel restaurant in Greenville, IL. I found this small recipe headnote on Recipe Circus:

No Greenville native of a certain age will ever forget the pleasure of biting into a piece of Lowery's Fudge cake. It was sold exclusively at the old Lowery's Motel. We still remember how it was cut into squares and neatly wrapped in wax paper. After the Lowery ladies died and the motel restaurant became but a fond memory, custody of the fudge-cake recipe was passed to another lady of the church. It still arrives for the reception in perfect squares, wrapped in the traditional wax paper, though now the ladies of the Pastoral Care Committee unwarp it and arrange it on a silver tray. It never lasts long.

...and yet when I tried to find "Lowery's Motel" I drew a blank, but I did find evidence of a Lowry's, as noted in the obituary of Mariam T. Lowry (which references a motel in the family), and this vintage postcard:

...so sadly, while I was unable to find out much more about who created this recipe, one thing is not shrouded in mystery: the cake's deliciousness. As previously noted, it really is more like a cross between a cake and a bar cookie, kind of like a chocolate gooey butter cake with a crumb topping. Very decadent, very delicious. Happily, I was able to find a recipe--here it is for you. The one I tried (pictured top, not baked by me) also had a brown sugar crumb topping. Feel free to leave any more lore about the cake in the comments section!

Lowry's (or is it Lowery's?) Fudge Cake

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 4 squares semisweet chocolate
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together. Add the sugar, Stir until melted. Cool slightly. With a wooden spoon, mix in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in flour and salt. Add vanilla and chopped pecans. Some people like alot of vanilla and a lot of nuts. I suggest 1 tsp vanilla and 1 cup chopped nuts. 
  3. Pour the mixture into a buttered 9X11 inch pan. Bake for about 40 minutes. Start testing at 30-35 minutes. To be a purist, your straw for testing should come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

 

Sunday
May152011

Chocolate Love: Mom's Chocolate Cake Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Photo: Macrina BakeryIt's the most wonderful time of the month, a week in, when the rent has already been paid and we all receive Macrina Bakery's recipe of the month in our inbox. Le nom!

This month, they've featured "Mom's Chocolate Cake", which is introduced thusly: "This dessert is named in honor of those homemade chocolate cakes that moms are famous for. I like to apply the frosting in big swirls."

Here's how to make it happen at home.

Mom's Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS:

Makes 1 (9-inch) layer cake
For the cake: 

2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup boiling water

For the vanilla syrup: 
1/4 cup pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

For the chocolate frosting: 
12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

PREPARING THE CAKE LAYERS:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare a 9 x 3-inch cake pan by brushing the inside with oil, then lining the bottom with a 9-inch circle of parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine eggs, milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and mix well with a whisk. Set aside.

Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Toss with your hands to combine. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Using the whisk attachment, mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Keep mixing as you add the boiling water in a slow stream, mixing just until the water is incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until cake is set in the center. Test center with a skewer to make sure the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

PREPARING THE VANILLA SYRUP: 
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar is dissolved and the liquid is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

PREPARING THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING: 
Place chocolate in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water. It’s important that the water be just simmering; if it’s too hot it will scorch the chocolate. Stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until all of the pieces have melted and reached a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 5 to 8 minutes to cream the butter. Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium. Starting out on a higher speed will likely result in a snow storm of powdered sugar, a real mess. When the butter mixture is light and fluffy, add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and continue mixing a few more minutes until the frosting is thick enough to spread. If the frosting gets too soft, simply chill it in the refrigerator to firm it up. If it stays in the refrigerator for too long, let it sit out for a few minutes and then re-whip it.

ASSEMBLING THE CAKE 
Invert the cooled cake to remove it from the pan. If it sticks, run a  sharp knife around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake. Using a sharp bread knife, carefully cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or cardboard cake circle and brush it with a little vanilla syrup. Spread a generous amount of chocolate frosting (about 1/4 inch) over the cake. Top it with another layer of cake and repeat the process. Add the final cake layer. Place a dollop of frosting on top of the cake and spread it 1/8 inch thick, spreading any excess frosting down onto the sides. Spread a little more frosting on the sides until the entire cake has what bakers call a crumb coat: a thin underlayer of frosting that keeps crumbs out of the final layer of frosting. Crumbs will be clearly visible through the frosting. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. The remaining frosting can stay at room temperature while the cake chills.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and add the final layer of frosting. I like to create a swirl pattern in the frosting, just like the cakes I remember from childhood. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. This cake is best served at room temperature, so remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. 

Tuesday
Feb222011

Baked, Not Stirred: Fresa Breeze Margarita Cupcakes Recipe from Robicelli's

Who knew? February 22 is National Margarita Day. But how to celebrate? Well, naturally, you should indulge in a margarita or seven. But you'll need something to soak up all of that blissful booze, so may I suggest a Margarita Cupcake? Here's a recipe sent on care of Partida Tequila, developed specially for them by Robicelli's (who you know I have a cake crush on!).

Margarita Cupcakes

Cake
3/4 stick butter, melted & cooled
3 eggs
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 cup Partida Blanco tequila
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zests of 2 limes

Cream cheese frosting
1 tsp Partida Blanco Tequila
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 package cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar

Strawberry salsa
1 large container strawberries, stems removed and chopped 
1/4 cup seedless cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Partida Tequila
One Lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Strawberry Salsa:
1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat eggs until well mixed, then add butter, cream, tequila & salt.  Mix until combined.
3. Sift together flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add to wet mixture and stir until smooth.
4. Divide amongst 12 cupcake tins and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops just spring back when touched.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1.  Beat together tequila, softened butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy.
2.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
3.  Once all sugar is added, beat for an additional 3 minutes to incorporate air.

To assemble:
1.  Strain salsa, reserving liquid.  Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each cupcake with the liquid.
2.  Frost cupcakes with the cream cheese & tequila icing.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out an indentation in the middle of each cupcake.
3. Place a heaping spoonful of the strawberry salsa in each indentation.
4.  Garnish with a sliver or lime.

Saturday
Feb192011

Dark But Sweet: Bittersweet Chocolate Gateau Recipe from Macrina Bakery, Seattle

Image: Macrina BakeryTopping the list of things that make you go NOM? Howsabout a big slice of Bittersweet Chocolate Gateau? It's the recipe of the month from Seattle's famous Macrina Bakery, and I don't know about you, but I think it would be a perfect cake to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all of the above.

Bittersweet Chocolate Gateau

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 9 eggs
  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks)
  • unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 cups (1 pint) fresh raspberries
  • Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
  • Powdered sugar

 

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9 x 13-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  2. Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a small stainless steel bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water. It’s important that the water be just simmering; if it’s too hot it will scorch the chocolate. Stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until all of the pieces have melted and reached a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from the heat and set it on the stovetop to keep it slightly warm.
  3. Separate eggs, placing yolks in a small bowl and whites in a medium bowl. Set bowls aside.
  4. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes more to cream the butter. The mixture will become smooth and pale in color. Start adding the egg yolks, 2 at a time, taking care to mix each addition fully before adding more yolks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. After all of the yolks are incorporated, add the sifted cocoa powder and continue mixing until combined.
  5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the melted chocolate with a rubber spatula. The batter will thicken. Using a whisk or hand-held mixer, whip egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter, one third at a time. Continue folding the batter until there are no visible white streaks; it is important that the whites be fully incorporated into the batter. The final mixture should have a sponge-like texture. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and scatter half of the raspberries over the top. Poke the berries down with your fingers until they are just below the surface.
  6. Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and lift, leaving the cake on the pan bottom. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and garnish with the remaining raspberries. Serve with Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream. It’s best to enjoy this cake the day it’s baked, but it can be stored at room temperature for up to one day. It will become very dense and fudge-like if kept in the refrigerator.
  7. It's also most excellent with freshly whipped cream!
Monday
Jan312011

Whole Hog: Groundhog Day Cake for Serious Eats

My family has an unusual tradition: we celebrate Groundhog Day. In a completely non-ironic way. And to herald the occasion, there is always a cake-homage to the skittish little critter.

Why? Well, my dad is a surfer, and he carefully follows Punxsutawney Phil's yearly emergence. If he does not see his shadow, it means spring is coming, and thus surf season will come sooner. And also because, well, cake is very delicious.

Of course, no matter whether you're in a rush for spring to come, it's a pretty sure thing that this Groundhog-themed cake will brighten your day—and the remaining crumbs will cast minimal shadows.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Jan182011

Mix it Up: Funfetti Cakelets in the Toaster Oven

Picture this: you've just filled up a cake tin's worth of cupcakes, and you have a dollop of batter left. What to do?

Now, you may think that the possibilities stop at A) Swipe it with your finger (or a spatula) and eat it...or B) Put it in a cupcake liner and bake it all by its lonesome.

Now, these are respectable options, for sure. But I'd like to present another option: bake it in the toaster oven.

I did this recently, and while I wouldn't call it an amazing success, it was thoroughly eatable, and a great sweet fix in a pinch (or late at night, when these things seem like a great idea). And it sure was fun to do.

Here's how I did it.

Toaster Oven Cakelets

 Ingredients

  • 1 dollop leftover Funfetti batter, prepared per box instructions
  • a piece of aluminum foil to bundle it in

Procedure

  1. Place your dollop of cake batter on the center of the aluminum foil. Bunch the sides up around it, to form walls so that the batter won't seep through.
  2. Place the wad in the toaster oven and toast (you heard me, toast) it on medium heat (350 if you have such settings) until it is browned on top, about 15 minutes. Lightly peel away the foil from the side to see if it is baked through. If so, remove from toaster oven, cool, and top with frosting, a dab of ice cream, etc, and enjoy.

 

Friday
Jan072011

Sweet Excess: The Exquisite Pleasure of Eating the Pumpple from Flying Monkey Patisserie, Philadelphia

Pie? Cake? Why decide, when you can eat two kinds of each, plus a 3-inch slab of buttercream frosting, all at once?

That's right: it's time for me to tell you about the exquisite pleasure that was ordering and eating the Pumpple, by far and away the single most calorie-dense offering at Philadelphia's Flying Monkey Patisserie.

But first, a 411. Per this article on MSNBC:

While the turducken, a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey, once seemed over-the-top, the pumpple cake is even more decadent. One Philadelphia bakery dreamed up this ultimate fall dessert: pumpkin and apple pies baked in chocolate and vanilla cake, fused together and surrounded by buttercream icing.

This oversize creation weighs in at a whopping 15 pounds and measures more than a foot tall. And at 1,800 calories a slice, it's not for the faint of heart.

And when a couple of spies--a buddy and myself--found ourselves wandering around Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market a week or so ago, you'd better believe we made a beeline to Flying Monkey for a slice of this sweet manna.

Now, this cake is not cheap. It's $8 a slice. But the purchase price is practically worth it for the pomp and circumstance of serving a slice all alone. Here's what you can expect if you decide to make the investment:

The first thing you'll notice as you come up to the bakery case is that this cake is huge. It's over a foot tall--just think about that. This means that if you were standing next to it, it would probably come closer to the height of your knee than the height of your ankle. 

The next thing is that it's heavy. This was clear by the way the employee braced herself to hoist the cake up to the counter to cut and serve. Over 15 pounds--that's a lot of cake, friends.

Once sitting at counter level, a big knife-slash-mini machete will be taken out to cut your slice. First, they will score the cake into marked-out slices.

Since the cake is kept cold (they recommend letting it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before eating), they will run a mini blowtorch over the knife (the kind used for creme brulee) to warm it so that it can cleanly and smoothly cut through the mass of cake.

They will repeat the torching to cut the other side of your wedge, and then they will delicately extract it and place it in a box, if you're taking it to go. This takeaway box is about the size of one that you'd get for an entire Chinese takeaway meal, by the way.

Now, you could wait half an hour to dig in, as they suggest. But when faced with the heady scent of buttercream, our resistance was futile--we grabbed some forks right away for a taste.

Sometimes, when a dessert like this exists, it's more for the shock value, and can disappoint in the taste department. But not this cake.

Every element could have stood on its own--moist, rich, flavorful cakes giving decadent, buttery pies a bear hug, and every last inch of it enveloped in a buttery frosting swaddling. 

After our few initial bites, we hit the road, walking around Philadelphia clutching our takeaway container with the care that one might assign a newborn baby...a newborn baby that you occasionally pause to take bites of, that is.

Furtive forkfuls were eaten at random all around town, and somehow, by the next morning, waking up in our hotel, this is all that was left. Now, this cake was advertised as serving four per slice, so I suppose I'm equal parts ashamed and proud to show you this.

In the morning light, it seemed like it could have been a mistake. But oh, it felt so right the night before.

Want a slice of this pie-and-cake mashup? You can get it at Philadelphia's Flying Monkey Patisserie; find them online here, and check 'em out on Twitter here.

Monday
Dec132010

Season's Sweetings: A 12-Layer Christmas Cake for Serious Eats

Whoever said that size doesn't matter clearly stuck with cakes that were, like, seven layers or fewer.

But here's a treat to power you through the holiday season: a towering 12-layer red and green Christmas cake. Why twelve layers? Why, one for each day of Christmas, of course!

A riff on Maryland's official state cake, the Smith Island Cake, this red-and-green confection is brimming with holiday cheer, and butter. Serve in slender slivers, because a little goes a long way with this sugary splendor.

Note: To avoid confusion, I should say that though it takes cues from both, this cake is neither a Red Velvet cake (it does not contain cocoa) nor truly a traditional Smith Island cake (the cake part is, but the icing is traditionally chocolate). Consider it a holiday mash-up, with liberties taken on both cakes to make for a festive holiday look.

For the full recipe and writeup, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Nov302010

Bang a Gong: Harvey Wallbanger Cake from Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

The holiday season has begun its assault on our senses. But I know how to dull the sensory overload: indulge in a big slice of boozy cake. Don't judge me.

(Note: curious about that patent? I was too. Learn more here.)

This one comes from Krystina Castella's Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine, and Beer, a fine release from Quirk Books this year. This book is full of fun boozy cake recipes, plenty of which are great for a holiday crowd; I won't lie, I chose the Harvey Wallbanger because of its funny name and interesting recipe lead-up:

All the rage in the 1970s, the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail is a groovy twist on the classic Screwdriver: it adds a splash of the smooth vanilla Italian liqueur Galliano to the vodka and orange juice. In the 70s spirit, this is one drunk Bundt cake that is dead easy to make. It's a light, moist, absolutely booze-drenched crowd pleaser.

And happily, I wasn't let down. Citrusy, festive, and very boozy, this one is party-perfect.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

From Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

For the cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.3 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
  • 3/4 cup orange juice

Boozy Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur

Finishing: original recipe  suggests orange slices and confectioners' sugar; I garnished with toasted almonds.

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, pudding powder, vetetable oil, eggs, vodka, Galliano, and OJ for 4 minutes, or until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Make the glaze. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over cake. Give it a few minutes to sink into the cake for extra boozy goodness and moisture. Finish with whatever garnish you'd like.

Warning: Do not share Harvey Wallbanger cake batter with pugs.

Tuesday
Nov092010

In the Kutchen: A German Cake Recipe for CakeSpy's Dad's Birthday

Guess what? Yesterday was CakeSpy's dad's birthday. Happy birthday, SpyDad!

And for this occasion, SpyMom made up something very special: Blitz Kutchen. What's that, you ask? Well, it's a recipe from the The Settlement Cook Book, the "first classic collection of American ethnic recipes"--a book which really reflects the American melting pot, with recipes which take inspiration from several of the "old countries" but often involve ingredients discovered or more readily found on US soil.

But that's not the only reason this crumb cake is special: as SpyMom says of why she chose this recipe to make for the Mr.: "It is his favorite German crumb cake I made the first birthday I was married to him."

Isn't that just so adorable you could die? Here's the recipe.

Further notes from SpyMom: "I use a old round pan, the vanilla option and this was the first time I added the almonds to the crumb topping. They are good though. And I added apple slices before the crumbs went on, love it that way."

Crumb Cake (Blitz Kutchen)

For the cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • grated rind of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Crumb Topping (streusel)

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • almonds

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar, add lemon rind or vanilla, add the eggs one at a time (reserving one egg white). Beat well, then add flour and baking powder (mixed). Stir well, pour into a buttered oblong shallow pan, 8x12 inches. Spread with the reserved egg white, cver with streusel, and bake 1/2 hour or until browned.

To prepare the streusel: Mix first 4 ingredients by rubbing well with the finger tips until small crumbs are formed. Add a few chopped or pounded almonds. Sprinkle over the cake before baking.

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