November 04, 2006
Name of cake: Spicy Blessings
Occasion: Jesse's Blessingway
Constituents: Spice cupcakes with golden cream cheese frosting...some with toasted walnuts
Last night when I came home from performing The Experiment at Brain's house, I converted this spice cake recipe from medieval measurements to grams (thanks Rose Levy Beranbaum for providing the guidelines!! I just love that woman). I changed the dead battery in my roommate's scale, which now works perfectly, hooray, and I weighed out the dry ingredients and mixed them together. Then I pulled out the 2 eggs and the butter and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.
This morning when my eyes snapped open at 8 am (which NEVER happens) I got up and got ready to bake the cupcakes. That's when I read the instructions carefully and noticed that I was to add the brown sugar to the egg-sour cream mix, not mix it in with all the dry ingredients like I did. Oh well.
This is a fascinating cake mix because there's no butter...no butter!!!! The fat comes from the sour cream...so does this technically mean it isn't a butter cake? I guess that's an obvious yes but what category would this cake fit under? In every other respect it is a butter-type cake.
It is really nice to have half of the cake pre-measured and mixed; these suckers came together quickly and off they went into the oven. I added 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of ground cardamom, because why not?? For the nutcakes, I added the chopped nuts by hand as I scraped the batter into the blue cupcake cups. Blue cups=nuts, yellow cups=no nuts. In case there were nut-sensitives.
These little cupcakes raised quite high above their papers during the bake, and I assumed they would deflate a bit during the cool down, but they didn't! Very cute little guys.
Not to brag, but my cream cheese frosting rocks. It is tangy, silky, perfectly sweet, and ass kickingly good. I found the initial recipe online, but I changed it up a bit because the amount of sugar it called for was ridiculous, and I also find the idea of using powdered sugar and then adding milk stupid. I use fine or superfine granulated sugar--if all the ingredients are at room temperature the sugar will dissolve no problem. This time, I used the golden baker's superfine sugar--which is basically less refined sugar so it still has some of the original molasses and minerals. This makes for a sweet taste that has a little depth and earthiness to it, unlike white sugar which is sharp, one dimensional, and completely devoid of anything resembling the original product it came from. It also gave the frosting an off-white hue--almost like a pale tawny color which people mistook for a maple frosting. Which wouldn't be a bad idea.
The spice cake recipe made 16 cupcakes in total, and I have about half of the batch of frosting freezing in my freezer.
In a fit of decorating, I sprinkled finely chopped toasted walnuts on the nut cakes, and a little bit of ground cinnamon on the plain cakes. So fancy! Although if I were truly a fancypants I would have tried to remove all the walnut skins before sprinkling them on the cupcakes.
Despite there already being a ton of baked goods at the Blessingway, the cupcakes seemed to be well received and Jesse took home a bunch for her boys. Hooray!
And now, drumroll please, the recipes!!
Spice Cake adapted from Fannie Farmer's Baking Book, pg 344
1 cup/242 g sour cream
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cup/217 g brown sugar (light)
2 cups/260 g cake flour
1 tsp/5 g baking soda
1/4 tsp fine grained sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves (freshly ground if possible)
1 tsp ground cardamom (freshly ground if possible)
optional: 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. grease and flour two 8-in round cake pans, or prep your cupcake tins.
beat the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly blended, then beat in the sugar. in a medium bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients (except the optional nuts) and thoroughly combine and aerate with a whisk. add in three to four batches to the sour cream mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. it will look a little runny. stir in (by hand) the optional walnuts. pour batter into prepared pans; divide evenly in the cake pans or fill cupcake molds 1/2 to 2/3 full.
bake cake rounds for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick or wire cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. the top should spring back lightly when touched. cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes and unmold; let cool completely before frosting or storing airtight.
bake cupcakes for 15-25 minutes until a wooden toothpick or wire cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. the tops should spring back lightly when touched. cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes and unmold; let cool thoroughly before frosting or storing airtight.
Kick-Ass Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (2 8-oz boxes = 1 pound) cream cheese (not fat free) softened but not warm
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup fine or superfine milled cane sugar or honey or whatever
in a bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until soft and fluffy. add the cream cheese, vanilla, and salt and beat at low speed just until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. using a rubber spatula, clean the beaters and scrape the sides of the bowl whenever necessary during beating. start by adding half a cup of sugar or sweetener and beat well. add enough sugar to taste; not more than one cup. beat well to ensure the sugar dissolves.
use soon after or refrigerate. let the frosting come up to room temperature if cold, and beat a bit to fluff it back up.
enough to fill and frost a 2 layer 9 inch cake.