Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sugar and spice and . . .

. . . oh my god, that's an amazing cake!!!

That was my reaction to this incredible from-scratch spice cake I made over the weekend. It was amazing. I mean, incredible. I want more. Problem is, I was smart and gave away half of the cake (gotta watch my weight, after all). Oh well.

I saw it on this weekend's episode of America's Test Kitchen on "Snack Cakes". This is apparently what you call the one layer cakes that used to be made before cakes were made structurally sound enough to support multiple layers (e.g. carrot cake, etc.).

A couple notes. I couldn't find pre-ground cardamom so I bought the pods and ground them myself (everyone should have a coffee grinder dedicated for spices). After thoroughly grinding the cardamom, I still sifted it to remove the pod shell pieces which didn't break up so finely. You also will have to grind your own cloves but be careful, the oils in cloves will eat through plastic so, if you have any left over grindings you want to keep for next time, wrap it in some paper towel first.


Spice Cake

Shopping List:
AP flour
ground cinnamon
ground cardamom
ground allspice
ground cloves
ground nutmeg
unsalted butter (2 5/8 sticks), divided
baking powder
baking soda
table salt
large eggs (5)
vanilla extract
granulated sugar
fancy molasses
fresh ginger
iciing sugar
brick cream cheese (1 pkg = 250g)
walnuts & raisins (optional)

Mix well in a small prep bowl:
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Reserve ½ tsp of spice mix for the iciing.

Melt 4 tbsp unsalted butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter starts to darken and smell nutty, swirling the butter in the pan as it starts to brown, careful not to burn it. Add the spice mix and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

Prepare one 9” x 13” baking pan. Place remaining butter and cream cheese on counter to warm to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Finely grate 1 tbsp fresh ginger.

Combine in a medium bowl:
2 ¼ cups AP flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp table salt

In a smaller bowl, whisk:
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

In bowl of stand mixer, cream together:
12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp fancy molasses

Incorporate in at medium speed:
  • the spice and butter mixture
  • the fresh ginger
  • the egg mixture (in two halves)

Mix in at low speed:
  • 1/3 of the flour mixture
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • second 1/3 of the flour mixture
  • ½ cup buttermilk (to a total of 1 cup)
  • remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture
  • if desired, 2 cups raisins

Transfer batter to the pan, running a spatula through it to remove any air bubbles and to spread it out. Also lightly tap pan on counter several times.

Bake for 32-37 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before iciing (~ 2 hours).

In the bowl of stand mixer, combine:
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup iciing sugar, sifted if necessary
reserved spice mix

Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add 1 brick cream cheese, one piece at a time until well incorporated. Add ½ tsp vanilla extract and beat until no lumps remain.

Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Spread iciing over top of the cake. If desired, top with ¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted.

The cake can be stored for up to two days in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Original Source: America's Test Kitchen - Old-Fashioned Snack Cakes - Spice Cake

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