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“Bundt” is not a flavor — it’s a shape!

Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

 WELCOME  GARDNER  NEWS  READERS

 I have been introduced to a whole new world … the “World of Bundt”.  Bundt is not a flavor  … it is a shape.  It is simply the name used to identify a dessert cake baked in a Bundt pan.  These cakes are typically made from dense, rich cake recipes using Paula Deen amounts of butter or shortening.  These cakes keep well and require little embellishment, maybe just a drizzle of glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar.

If a home has a kitchen, more often than not there is a Bundt pan lurking in the cabinet – in two out of three American households to be exact.  According to David Dalquist of Nordic Ware, there are nearly 60 million Bundt pans across the continent.  Now I am having a hard time believing this, as I am convinced that the only Bundt pan residing in Gardner, Kansas is in my home!  Sadly, I got no response to my request for your favorite Bundt cake recipes … but no worries … I will share with you my number one recipe.  For years Nordic Ware sold only a few of these pans.  That is until 1996 when a Texas woman won second place in the Pillsbury Bake-off  for her entry of Tunnel of Fudge Cake made in a Bundt pan.  (If you would like this recipe, contact me.) This started a nationwide scramble for the pan.

After reading everything I could on “all things Bundt”, I discovered that part of the trick to a beautiful Bundt cake is in preparing the pan.  Many bakers say that their biggest issue with these cakes, as great as they are, is to get them out of the pan in one piece.  Here is the miracle solution … mix equal parts of shortening, oil and flour (I used my food processor.).  Use a pastry brush to reach every nook and cranny. 

Eighty-five percent of Americans say that baking puts them in a holiday mood.  So Gardner, fire up your ovens, grease your Bundt pans and let’s create some Holiday Spirit!


Marble Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Adapted from recipegoldmine.com
Serves 16

Truffle Center:
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Marble Bundt Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature  (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sour cream  (1  16 oz. container)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

For truffle center: Heat the cream to just below a simmer and pour over the chopped chocolate.  Stir to melt completely and then chill until firm, about 3 hours.  (You can use semi-sweet chocolate if you do not like bittersweet. I really like the bittersweet flavor against the sweetness of the cake batter.)

For the cake: Heat oven to 300 degrees F and grease a 12-cup Bundt pan.  (If you do not use the “grease” recipe listed above, you may grease and flour your pan.  I have friends who use the baking spray with flour with good results.  If you use baking spray, wait and treat the pan just before filling with batter.)

Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after adding each egg.   Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the butter/sugar/egg/sour cream mixture in three additions, mixing gently after each addition.

Remove 3/4 cup batter and set aside. This is extra batter for a cook’s treat.

Remove 2 cups of the white batter and stir in the 4 oz. melted chocolate.  Then stir in the white chocolate chips.  The batter is thick so the chocolate chips will not all settle on the bottom. 

Stir the dark chocolate chips into the remaining white cake batter.

To assemble, layer half of the dark and white cake batters into a prepared Bundt pan.  Run a knife through to swirl gently.

Roll and shape chilled chocolate into “truffles” and lay side-by-side in a circle around the Bundt pan.  Top with remaining batters and run knife through to swirl gently.  (When you swirl the batter be careful not to disturb the chocolate truffle balls in your batter.  You can see in my pictures that my truffle center is not rounded.  I must have been having way too much fun swirling.)

Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.   Allow your cake to cool for a full 20 minutes before turning it out on a cooling rack.   Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.  (My cake turned out of the pan with no problem!)  You will unveil a beautiful truffle center in each slice!

For the remaining 3/4 cup batter, scoop into greased and floured muffin cups.   Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 300 degrees F or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Truffle Center

Grab a fork!

The Cake Slice: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

Pistachio Petit Four Cake

Pistachio Petit Four Cake

THE CAKE SLICE bakers used marzipan, apricot preserves and a dark chocolate glaze to turn a pistachio butter cake into an irresistible dessert reminiscent of European petit fours glaces.

 Pistachio Petit Four Cake
From:   Sky-High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
By:  Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8 inch triple layer cake; serves 12 to 16

¾ cup skinned pistachio nuts
1 & 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup apricot preserves

Marzipan (recipe follows)
Dark chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter three 8 inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a dish and let cool completely.  Finely chop the pistachios and set ¼ cup aside for decoration.

Put the remaining ½ cup pistachios in a food processor.  Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds.

Add the butter, milk and vanilla and with the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated.  Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition.  Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.

Marzipan
8 ounces almond paste
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup

Crumble the almond paste into a large mixing bowl.   Use an electric mixer on low speed to soften the almond paste. (I found it much easier to use a fork to mash the almond paste to soften it.  My mixer kept throwing chunks of almond paste out of the bowl and into the dining room.)  Add the confectioners sugar and corn syrup and beat until smooth.  Wrap well in plastic so it doesn’t dry out and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before rolling.

Dark Ganache Glaze
1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate
1 ¼ cups heavy cream

Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a bare simmer.  Pour immediately over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making before it starts to set.  Allow to cool and thicken slightly before use.

The Cake Slice Bakers

The Cake Slice Bakers

To Assemble:
Roll out a third of the marzipan on a work surface dusted with a little confectioners sugar to about 1/8th inch thick.  (It will take more than a little confectioners sugar to be able to work with the marzipan.  I took a gallon size freezer bag and cut up the sides and rolled the marzipan out between the plastic.  Regular plastic wrap was just not working for me as it would not allow me to “control” the marzipan.  Just remember to brush any excess sugar off of the marzipan rounds before you place them on the cake.)  Set one of the cake pans upside down on the marzipan and trim around it with a small knife to make an 8 inch round. Repeat twice more with the remaining marzipan.  Save your scraps to make roses for decoration if desired.  (I ended up with enough “scraps” to make 2 roses … or what I called roses!  I have yet to acquire the skills necessary to produce marzipan flowers.  I watch Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss … you’d think I would have it down pat by now!)

Place one cake layer on a cake board, flat side up.  Spread ¼ cup of the apricot preserves evenly over the top, leaving a ¼ inch margin all round to allow for spreading.  Place one marzipan round on top of the preserves and spread 1/3 cup ganache glaze over the top of the marzipan so that it is completely covered.  Repeat with the second cake layer, adding more preserves, marzipan and glaze.

Add the final cake layer and top with preserves and marzipan as before.  Place the whole cake on a wire rack set over a baking pan.  Pour the remaining dark ganache glaze over the cake, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top and sides of the cake.  Allow the ganache to set before transferring to a plate.  It should be smooth and glossy.

Garnish the top with the reserves chopped pistachios.

This cake tasted great on a styrofoam plate!

This cake tasted great on a styrofoam plate!

DEBBIE’S “TAKE ON THE CAKE”:   The cake itself was a tad dry.  I am not sure if it is from the finely ground pistachio nuts that went in the batter or if I baked it a few minutes too long.  Marzipan in between each layer and on the top of the cake was way  too much for my taste.  Next time I would use the preserves and the chocolate between each layer (might be a little tricky) and the preserves and marzipan on the top of the cake.

The Cake Slice: Pina Colada Cake

Pina Colada Cake

Pina Colada Cake

THE CAKE SLICE bakers decided to take a “trip” to the islands with this month’s Pina Colada Cake!

Pina Colada Cake
From:   Sky-High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
By:  Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

Brown Sugar Cake  (makes three 9″ layers)
3¾ cups cake flour
1¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2¼ cups packed light brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups buttermilk
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake method
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Butter and line the base of three 9 inch cake pans.   (I butter my pans, place the parchment paper bottom liners in the pans and then butter the top of the parchment paper liners as well.)

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk gently to combine.  Add the brown sugar, butter and 1½ cups of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients.  With the mixer on low blend to incorporate.  Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk the eggs with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions.  Divide the batter between the 3 pans.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.  (I baked for 25 minutes.  To ensure I could make a whole cake this month … you might remember last month half of one of my layers crumbled when I removed it from the pan … I let the cakes cool almost 20 minutes in the pans.  When I took the cakes from the oven they were nice and high in the pans, but they did “settle” a bit upon cooling.)

For the filling  (I made 1 and 1/2 times the recipe … next time will double!)
1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice (no added sugar)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1  one inch piece of vanilla bean split in half

Filling method
Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan. Add the vanilla seeds you scraped from the vanilla bean.  (I tossed in the vanilla bean pieces for added flavor.  Just remember to remove them when cooking is complete.)  Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency. (This takes a while, do not expect it to happen in just a few minutes.  Watch so it does not burn.)  Let the filling cool completely before using.  Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.    (Next time I will make the day before!)

Coconut Buttercream   (I doubled the recipe … can never have too much icing!)
3 eggs whites
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk   (I found this in the Asian aisle in the grocery 
                                                                       store.)
1½ tsp coconut extract   (I used about one teaspoon of almond extract. I have not
                                                                       found a coconut extract that I like.)

Buttercream method
Put the eggs whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment so they are ready to go.

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the sold boil stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature. 

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.

Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.  (At this stage I increased the speed of my mixer to medium-high.   Be patient … it takes some time for this icing to come together!)

To assemble
9 tbsp rum – light, amber or dark   (I used pineapple juice instead of rum.)
Coconut flakes and thin slices of pineapple   (Optional to use as decorations.)

To assemble
Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand.  Sprinkle a generous 3 tbsp rum over the cake.  (I used pineapple juice.) Spread half of the pineapple filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge.  Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining pineapple filling.  Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum.

Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream.  Decorate with some thin shreds of coconut and slices of pineapple.

Serve in a "pretty" glass with a paper umbrella!

Serve in a "pretty" glass with a paper umbrella!

The Cake Slice: Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream Icing

Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream

Chai Cake with Honey Ginger Cream Icing

Ta Dahhhhh … my first post as A Cake Slice Baker .   I have pretty much always been a  “9 x 13 glass pan cake baker”.   Don’t get me wrong … my 9 x 13 pyrex pans have served me well over the years … but I am on to bigger and taller things!  You see, this year the Cake Slice Bakers have chosen to bake their way thru Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

Had it not been for the group selecting this recipe I would have read it and passed it by for 2 reasons.   There was no picture of the finished cake (I like pictures!) to entice me plus, I was unsure of the chai tea- infused milk as an ingredient.   My only experience with the chai flavor has been the “foo-foo” drinks at the coffee shops and I was not impressed. 

I was prepared to make this cake and not like it … you know give it away to unsuspecting family members who would believe you baked it just for them.   But, I made a sudden conversion to “Chai-ism” right about the time the delicate, spicy wafts of baking cake made it from the oven to the couch.  

My fear of not having enough icing kicked in as it normally does, so I increased the icing recipe by one third.  This allowed me to be a bit more generous between layers with plenty left to coax over the top and down the sides of the assembled cake.  If I were to change one thing, it would be to use a more “delicate ” flavored honey in the icing.   The basic, everyday put on your biscuit type I used was a bit overpowering for my tastes. 

The first piece of cake for my official "taste-tester".

The first piece of cake for my official "taste-tester".

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino

chocolate-valentino-slice1
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

This certainly is a month of “firsts” as this is my rookie showing as a Daring Baker!

I openly admit I was a bit intimidated with this recipe of only 3 ingredients.  

Chocolate:   I used 50% bittersweet and 50% semi-sweet.
       Butter:    Next time I will use a much better quality of butter.
         Eggs:    Used farm fresh eggs purchased from the local “egg lady”

A flourless chocolate cake has been on my “gotta try it some day” list for quite a long time.   But any recipe that includes the words “whip the egg whites” throws me for a loop.   So thank you Dharm and Wendy for helping me overcome my “whip the egg whites” phobia!   I did make use of the video demonstration site you suggested.  My batter turned out fine … but I wonder if I might have over-whipped the egg whites.  Instead of a nice ribbon of egg whites being folded into the chocolate mixture (like I saw in the video) … mine kind of separated onto little “chunks”.  I expected my cake to be a bit “taller” … maybe having to take longer to fold the “chunks” of egg white into the chocolate mixture contributed to deflating my batter a bit.

I used an 8 inch heart shaped pan purchased especially for this baking occasion.  At twenty minutes into the baking cycle I tested my cake with an instant read thermometer and it had already hit 145F.   Darn … should have checked it at 15 to 18 minutes.  (Hind sight is 20/20.) 

chocolate-valentino-in-pan

 NOTICE  THE  HOLE IN THE MIDDLE OF MY HEART!
I had to laugh when I realized that the instant read thermometer left a permanent scar.

chocolate-valentino-in-pan2

Step 10 reads:  Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.   Yes, it was that easy!   I ended up with a perfectly shaped heart cake.

chocolate-valentino-unmolded

 You can visit Wendy or Dharm and get the recipe for this great Chocolate Valentino cake.

chocolate-valentino-the-end