Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I have never been very good at most math, algebra, statistics, pre-calc all went straight over my head. However, along the way cooking and baking have helped me improve my skills, fractions are now a cinch and division just makes sense if you don't want to make six cakes. Beyond these simple skills, there is the more complicated algebra, for example:

1 cranberry upside down cake, plus

1 pecan upside down cake, plus

maple cream cheese frosting=
One Heck of a Birthday Cake

It hasn't officially been assembled, but I couldn't help but show off about how well the process is looking (plus I have already snuck a taste of all the components, mmm). I assure you there will be final photos (and recipes) tomorrow. In the meantime, let me give you a taste of the other treats I will be enjoying at the party later today.

Refried Beans+ Guacamole+ Sour Cream+ Salsa+ tortilla chips= Mexican Layer Dip

Dates+ Almonds+ Bacon= Bacon Wrapped Dates

Frozen pigs in the blanket+ frozen mozzarella sticks+ frozen spanakopita= Guilty Pleasure (don't tell anyone)

If all this math hasn't impressed you yet, then let me leave you with one last equation, the most important one.

12/02/2009 (minus) 12/02/1988=

So for the recipe for my Cranberry Pecan Layer Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, you will need 1 pecan upside down cake, 1 cranberry upside down cake and 1 portion of maple cream cheese frosting. Before I go into the recipes, I am going to explain the simple construction. Basically the two layers are 'sandwiched' together, so the cranberries and pecans will be in the center, creating a layer of their own. So, in others words, once you layer them one of the cakes will be upside down and the other will be right side up. I had the cranberry layer on the bottom because it was slightly wetter and harder to maneuver than the pecan one. Once they are layered (and sturdy) just frost it liberally, I also added some walnut halves for decoration.

Upside Down Cake
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. double-acting baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons; 7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk

• For the cranberry cake, replace the pecans with 2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries. The instructions remain the same.

1) Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put an 8-x-2-inch round cake pan on a lined baking sheet and keep it at hand. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and keep these nearby, too.

2) Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to the boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, scatter over the nuts, smoothing the layer and pressing it down gently with your fingertips. Set aside.

3) Working in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Pour in the extract and then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the pecans and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

4) Slide the sheet into the oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the pecans stick to the pan - as they might - just scrape them off with a knife and return them to the cake.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Epicurious)

10 oz. cream cheese , room temperature
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. pure maple syrup

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.


Chocolate Shavings said...

That looks like the perfect cake, happy birthday!

Maria said...

21! Enjoy it! Have a happy and healthy one, and may there be many more to come.

And the cake sounds divine ... perfect fall flavors.

Anonymous said...

Darling Frenchie,
These are the yummiest photos and I send you my biggest hug on your birthday!


The Woozy said...

Happy Birthday! And OMG am I drooling over your bday cake. Mmmmmmm. -Jack

Jason Mitchell said...

Wow that looks a lot better then my nonexistent birthday cake...

Hope you have an awesome 21st year of your life! See ya soon!

myrecessionkitchen said...

This cake is genius! I would want it for my birthday cake!

lisa @ dandysugar said...

What a delicious and beautiful cake. Happy birthday! Hope you had a great one! Cheers!!

Jaynee said...

Actually one of the best cakes that I have ever had.. and I've eaten a lot of cakes in my day!