Cakes

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Some ingredients are available all year long, but only truly acceptable at certain times.  Canned pumpkin puree is one of those ingredients.  You can buy it in July, but a pumpkin dessert just doesn’t seem like something I’d bring to a 4th of July picnic.  Since it is now November I am going to take advantage of my freedom to use this glorious non-perishable good and make something delicious.

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The cake recipe is courtesy of Martha, and the brown butter frosting is a variation on a cookie frosting I used on a pumpkin cookie last year.

I love brown butter.  It is nutty, warm, comforting and so much tastier than regular butter frosting.  The little specks of burnt butter in the frosting make me happy.  I said it.  Butter makes me happy.

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Buttermilk Butternut Squash Spice Cake

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Vegetables are so versatile.  They can be enjoyed raw, roasted, steamed, fried, sautéed, boiled, and surely a few ways I’ve neglected to mention.  One of my favorite things about vegetables is that they can be enjoyed as a savory side dish, an entrée or in a sweet baked good.  The butternut squash in this cake adds moisture and texture, and a very subtle flavor of squash that is a nice complement to the tart buttermilk and sweet vanilla and spices.

I used a traditional bundt pan, which I greased and sugared.  This is my new favorite way to prep a pan for baked goods.  I used this method on a pan of blondies yesterday that came out beautifully.  The two batches I tried before stuck like crazy, but this sugaring thing seems to be pretty foolproof.

The batter was smooth and smelled wonderful even before it was baked.  I used 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in the batter because I was out of ginger.  I think it worked well and still provided the fall spice flavor.

This is an easy recipe that can be prepared ahead of time since it needs to cool before applying the glaze.

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Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

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This challenge really snuck up on me.  I guess I could blame it on the fact that last week was my first week of school, but really I am just a little forgetful sometimes and I have a bad habit of putting things off.  This week was really too busy to make this cake, so I had to wait until yesterday.  I have never baked and assembled a cake this involved so quickly!  It still took me a while, about 3 hours start to finish.  This is an accomplishment, in my opinion, especially when you consider the 6 sponge cake layers, chocolate buttercream, the caramel coated triangle cake pieces and assembly.

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Buttermilk Cakes

I made SmittenKitchen’s raspberry buttermilk cake a few weeks ago.  The cake was so lovely that I decided to try it with some different additions.  Since I had blueberries, half a bag of raw blanched almonds and a tube of almond paste already on hand…that’s what I used.  The other ingredients in the cake are readily accessible in a bakers kitchen; 1 egg, 1/2 stick butter, sugar, flour, buttermilk (You can make your own!) baking soda, powder, salt and sugar.  Easy.

blueberry2Buttermilk Cake #1

The first cake I made was a blueberry almond cake and it was, in my opinion, incredibly delicious.  Tart and juicy blueberries in a sweet, tender and moist cake with crunchy almond paste crumbs on top.  The blueberries sank into the batter as it baked, but the almond paste stayed on top so it was able to get a little brown and crunchy.  I sprinkled regular granulated sugar on top as well.  I did not use lemon zest in the cake.  I thought it might not combine well with the almond, but it would probably be great.

I get so worried about overcomplicating a dish that I tend toward simple flavors and fairly normal ingredients.  If you want something crazy, make this.  It grosses me out a bit, but my 7th grade Texas History teacher, Mr. Dennis, made this for us as a Christmas treat when I was in his class, and it was good…so maybe Velveeta cheese is better for more than Cheater Queso?  If you’d like to make a bit more work of your queso…try this. After reading this post and drooling on my keyboard, I might have to try it as well.

Back to buttermilk…the possibilities are endless with this cake.  This recipe is definitely one I will be experimenting with.  It lends itself to fruit additions perfectly, but I would be willing to try chocolate pieces and various nuts as well.  Pecans and walnuts would be tasty.

Buttermilk Cake #2

I absolutely love almond, so next I tried a cake with chopped almonds in the batter and a sprinkle of the almond paste on top as I did this last time.  I used 1/3 white and 1/3 brown sugar in this cake, 2 ounces of chopped toasted almonds in the batter and about 2 ounces of crumbled almond paste on top.

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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake, My Cute Nephew and My Crazy Husband

The flavor of this cake was absolutely delicious, and slightly sweet.  The tartness of the raspberries is lovely.  The texture was wonderfully moist with a nice tender crumb.  I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I was disappointed that mine did not end up looking as beautiful as hers, but I am sure I will make this cake again, so we’ll see if I can improve on the appearance.  I followed her recipe and instructions completely except that I added a cap-full, about 1/4 teaspoon, of almond extract just because I love the flavor of almond.  I served this cake when my parents came through Amarillo after dinner.

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It was a light cake, perfect all by itself, no whipped cream needed.  I used turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar and loved the crunch it provided.  This cake is so easy to prepare and has simple ingredients most people have on hand.  The buttermilk is also non-essential since you can make your own buttermilk in 10 minutes with regular milk and some lemon juice or vinegar.

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Texas Sheet Cake

In April of 2005 I was living in College Station, Texas going to Texas A&M.  My roommates and I took the Houston Chronicle, and I pulled this recipe from the newspaper and stashed it away in my recipe box one day in late April of 2005.  I found it this weekend…roughly 4 years later.  

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I am not sure why this is called Texas sheet cake…but I am proud that it is!  I did find a little information about the history of this cake, but nothing saying it actually originated in the Lone Star state.  This excerpt is from TheFoodTimeline.org.

Question: Where does Texas Sheet Cake get its name? 
A) From the super-chocolatey taste, as big as Texas. 
B) From the fact that the taste is so intense, people can eat only a small piece – meaning one cake will serve a Texas-size crowd. 
C) From its overall richness – a big taste in a big cake from a state that was super sizing things long before fast-food places were. 
D) All of the above. 
The answer, if you’ve ever tasted the famous cake, has got to be D. Texas Sheet Cake is chocolate through and through, rich and decadent. As for whether it originally came from Texas, I couldn’t find a definite answer. But Lone Star cooks were smart to get their state’s name on something that tastes so good.
— “A chocolate cake from the land of the super-sized,” Ann Burger, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), January 28, 2001, G, Pg. 6

This cake is so moist and chocolatey.  The cake itself is sweet, light and moist.  The fudgy frosting is spread on to the cake while it is still warm, so some of the frosting melts a little into the cake.  The sprinkle of toasted pecans on top are not only a good textural contrast, but add some Texas (or at least Southern) flavor.  A cold glass of milk or scoop of vanilla ice cream are great accompaniments.

Texas Sheet Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Grease and flour a 9×13, 10×15, or 2 9-inch round pans.  Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Combine water, butter, oil, cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the cocoa mixture over the flour mixture and stir together just until smooth.
  5. In a small bowl whisk eggs, buttermilk and vanilla then add to batter and stir together.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
  7. Baking Times: 9×13 – 25 minutes, 10×15 – 20 minutes, 9-inch rounds – 25 minutes.  Check cakes about 5 minutes before baking is completed to avoid over baking.
  8. Let cake cool for 5-10 minutes, then frost with chocolate frosting and sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans.

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Chocolate Frosting

frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  1. Cream butter and cocoa in a large bowl.
  2. Add the milk and beat until smooth.
  3. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions scraping down sides of bowl between additions.
  4. Add vanilla and beat well.