Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD Update!

Ok, so I've been MIA the past few weeks thanks to a combination of factors. I had had a crazy work schedule preparing for a trip to Arizona..then I went ON that trip to AZ--which happily included 2 extra days down in Tucson with my Dad, which was beyond wonderful. When I got back, I was home not 2 days when I had to get a cyst removed from my foot...no worries, it's benign, but still, 5 stitches later I was not feeling up for baking and standing/etc. (Dear Husband has taken to calling me Franken-foot, as it's really scary looking wound going on--the stitches are nylon, black nylon. So on my pale-as-a-baby's-derriere-skin, it's REALLY looking rather ghoulish--I shall spare you all the Franken-foot photo!)

So, I was very bummed to miss out on a yummy chocolate cake recipe this week, but I shall return next Tuesday! (Where it's all about Almond Biscotti!)

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the last time I got my "bake on"--which was the weekend prior to aforementioned jaunt to AZ. Dear Husband and I were invited to a dinner party/overnight to Long Island, to one of my nearest and dearest--my former office mate and partner in crime at Columbia House. She and her wonderful husband met at "The House" and are now living happily ever after and had a few of us former C.H. "alumni" over for dinner. A fun time was had by all!

So, back to the baking--
I was determined to finally try my hand at a Bundt cake. Now, a bundt cake is one of those things I just love. Something about the tube-pan baking makes it just a little more 'extra' special. And then the whole drizzle of the glaze on top, and the "wonder what could be baked inside" curiosity. I have always loved the idea of them, yet have never made from scratch...actually I don't even make them from a box either.

My baking life "BD" (Before Dorie) had me storing the (then) lesser-used bake ware in the dark corners of one of the cabinets. There you will find the muffin tins, mini muffin tins, round cake pans, heart-shaped cake pan, bread pans, pie plates, weights for baking an unfilled pie crust, foil covers for a pie crust, a rolling pin cover for pie crusts, and even little cookie cutters in shapes of leaves for--you guessed it--pie crusts. I think the bread-maker is pushed waaaay back there somewhere too. You name it, I seem to have it--I just rarely USE it (which is why I love this baking club of ours!) Each time I would open up that cabinet for the muffin tin or round cake pans, I would pass over "the bundt". It has been waiting patiently for that call to glory, and the wait was finally over. I'm sure it was convinced I took it out to move it out of the way for another item, but no, this time it was for real.

I found a recipe in one of my Bon Appetit magazines for a Brown Sugar & Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Maple Espresso Glaze. Thanks to the Dorie-baking, I had just about all of the ingredients (save the buttermilk and maple extract) in the house (and as I would soon discover, corn syrup--more on that below).

I'm not a big maple fan, but I liked the espresso sound of the glaze, which called for instant espresso powder. (Would you believe I even had that in the house---totally unopened from about a YEAR ago when I wanted to try one of Giada's desserts..yea, that never saw the light of day--I'm an expert at buying ingredients, but I have a huge delay in actually MAKING recipes..again, that's why Tuesdays with Dorie has been so good for me!)

Because I did not want the maple flavor in the cake or in the glaze-- and coming home from the grocery store to realize that I missed that I would need corn syrup for the glaze--which I did not have--I turned to my trusty Big Red Book and scoured my Betty Crocker for a cake glaze recipe that would perhaps suffice. (When in doubt, I consult Betty). I found a confectioners sugar-and-water based vanilla glaze. I removed the vanilla extract from the recipe, replaced it with almond extract, and then shook in some espresso powder, and "presto" I had made an almond-espresso glaze!

(check out the "after" photo in the end of my slideshow below--THAT'S usually how my counters look after baking...my frantic mixing, getting the glaze 'just right' with confectioners suger flying everywhere--and even Dear Husband's sports page somehow got tossed aside up on the counter--I guess it was in my way and I gave it a fling!?!)

I have to say this was a huge thing for me--only because I am not one for improvising...I think that's why I enjoy baking, it's a strict recipe. I am getting better at the "cooking" and improvising here and there, but not as a rule. So I was turning somersaults when I dipped a finger into the glaze and loved the taste of it!

The only hiccup was transporting my lovely creation. I do not have a 'travel' container for cakes...let alone a bundt cake. I have a fancier glass cake plate (the glass pedestal w/ dome lid) but not a tupperware/travel version...Yet by a miracle I somehow got it safely to LI in the 2.5 hr drive by rigging up my own system. After 30-45 minutes of trial and error, I finally figured out how to get the dome to set over the cake, but not let the dome slide into the SIDE of the cake on any sharper turns of the car ride. (Thus it would smudge the perfectly placed glaze).

I used the glass dome to the fancy cake plate, which fit completely around the rim of a dinner plate, on which the cake sat. This dinner plate/dome then went onto a wider platter. That way, if we turned the car, the glass dome would slide on the larger platter, up until it hit up against the rim of the dinner plate (that way it hit the plate, not the cake). Whether or not I am properly explaining this system, I was so proud when we got there with a totally pristine glaze! No bumps, or smudges!

The cake is awesome, and as much as I don't want to repeat recipes too quickly, I think I'm going to make for a party this weekend at my sister and brother-in-law's house...I only had 1 piece of it in L.I because I ate so much dinner...so I'm rather anxious to try it again!

NOTES ON BUNDT CAKES: So, not knowing about these cakes, they are denser-more "pound" cake like than a birthday-cake type of thing. Also, for any other Bundt rookies out there, the batter is stiff when it goes into the pan for baking---that threw me, and I thought the consistency was way off (it didn't run/pour into the pan more than inch into it like The Blob. (Thank God for the internet--I googled 'bundt cake batter' and found that it's common that the batter will be thick/stiffer than standard cake recipes!)

Here is the Recipe as it was Printed in Bon Appetit (as I said, I finagled a bit with it, especially the Glaze)


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 12-cup Bundt pan. Spray pan generously with nonstick spray. Dust pan lightly with flour. Mix chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons flour in medium bowl. Sift remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and maple extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chip mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

Mixing the chocolate chips with a little flour before adding them to the batter helps the chips stay evenly suspended in the batter and evenly distributed throughout the baked cake (otherwise, they may sink to the bottom).

For glaze:
Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons cream, and espresso powder in medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Spoon glaze decoratively over top of cake; let stand at room temperature until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.

ps: Happy Birthday, Kristin...wherever you are...


Cathy said...

Oh, I am so glad that the bundt has taken its rightful place in the spotlight! It looks AMAZING --- nice glaze, babe! Nice system for bundt transporting also -- way to go the extra mile to protect that glaze. And I agree -- WWBD? (What would Betty do?) Okay, now I check with Betty or Dorie, but same concept. Sorry about your foot! It's just always something, isn't it?

And I'll join you in wishing Kristin a happy birthday. Wish things were different.

Prudy said...

What a great post. Welcome back from your trip and I'm glad your foot is OK. Yikes! Life is so full of enough strange stuff to never be boring. I'm so jealous that you were roommates with Cathy. I've obviously never met her but she has me in stitches weekly. I love to be surrounded with funny friends. Congrats on that masterpiece of a cake and a Happy Birthday to your friend.

Barbara said...

Congratulations on a gorgeous cake! Not to mention successfully transporting it on a long drive!

Glad the foot wasn't too serious and hope it heals up fast.

Barbara said...

By the way, that Bundt cake recipe is very close to a classic "1-2-3-4 cake" recipe. 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar (yours has a bit less), 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, and a cup of milk or buttermilk. I've heard it's a very old recipe and it's amazing how many cake recipes are based on it!

n.o.e said...

Wow, this is a cool cake. It's hard for me to fit much more baking into my life with TWD, but this would be on the list. Well, if I weren't making the Dimply Plum cake for the fifth time this week (making it before the stone fruit disappear for the season)!

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