Thursday, April 9, 2009

Virginia Apple Walnut Cake

This is proof that I really need to learn to take better pictures of my food. This was beautiful. I promise. Don't let my awful pictures lead you astray. Beautiful.

For our Junior League meeting this week, I agreed to bake a dessert. It seemed like a good excuse to try a recipe from the league cookbook, so after a bit of perusal, I chose this coffee cake recipe. I know it's a pretty fall-ish recipe, but it just sounded yummy to me. I think my taste buds like to defy the season every now and then. That would also explain my recent obsession with sweet potatoes.

Virginia Apple Walnut Cake (from Oh! My Stars)

4 large (about 2.5 lbs) Granny Smith apples
1/3 c honey
1 tbs ground cinnamon
3 c flour (I used all-purpose)
1 tbs baking powder
2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c vegetable oil (I used canola)
4 eggs
1/3 c orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c walnuts halves (I used all chopped)

Line a 10-inch tube pan with baking parchment or coat with shortening or nonstick cooking spray (I forgot this step until it was too late - bad idea).
Peel apples and slice 1/4 inch thick.
Toss apples, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl.
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add oil eggs, orange juice and vanilla.
Beat at medium-high for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
Spread 1/3 of batter in the prepared tube pan.
Drain apples and reserve any juice.
Arrange 1/3 of the apple slices in a spoke design over the batter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Repeat the process until you've used remaining ingredients.
Pour the reserved juices over the top and arrange the walnut halves around the outer edge (this was too much work for me - I just sprinkled more chopped walnuts on the top).
Place on a baking sheet with a rim.
Bake at 350 degrees on the center oven rack for 1 hour and twenty minutes to one and a half hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (this was closer to 1:30 for me). (Cover loosely with foil if necessary to prevent over-browning).
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Loosen the cake from the side of the pan with a knife and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Loosen the cake from the tube and bottom of the pan with a knife and remove to a serving plate with a spatula.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tres Leche

One of my co-workers recently celebrated a birthday, and his cake request was for tres leche cake. I'd never made one before, so I wanted to go with a source I trusted. I found an Alton Brown recipe, and figured it was the way to go. It definitely was.


For the cake:
Vegetable oil
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half
For the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute.
Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup.
Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake.
Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed.
Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I really liked it, but found that the milk glaze pooled in the bottom of the pan once a slice had been cut out. I'm not sure if this is normal, but it did deter some of my co-workers who were unfamiliar with tres leche. In general, it just wasn't a very pretty cake, so I'll spare you pictures. The topping was to die for though. I could have eaten in straight!