Friday, August 21, 2009

A birthday cake for Mom

My mom turned (shhhh!) 60 this week. She looks fabulous and no one would ever guess she has reached the big six-o. My siblings and I joined my parents at their house after surveying the storm damage and toasted to her birthday. She requested a fancy cake... here it is!
Notes on this recipe: Due to the volume of the baking powder and eggs, this cake rises like crazy! I used two 8-inch pans and one 9-inch pan and the batter began to flow out as they baked. I would recommend placing your cake pans on cookie sheets to prevent a big mess that theoretically could drip onto your oven coils and well, maybe catch on fire. :) Also, I couldn't find creme fraiche at my local grocer and didn't have time for the mock creme fraiche recipe I had seen previously, so I used whipping cream with 3 Tbsp. of powdered sugar and a cap full of bourbon. Yum. Yesterday morning this recipe for creme fraiche was in the Star Tribune's Taste section. What timing!

Ginger Pecan Cake(from Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 finely ground toasted cups (7 ounces) pecans, plus 9 toasted pecan halves
3 cups packed light-brown sugar, sifted
6 large whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pint creme fraiche
2 teaspoons bourbon, (optional)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, or more to taste
1/4 ounce crystallized, ginger, cut into thin strips
Glossy Caramel Icing
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
Directions for Cake: Makes one 8-inch round cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with two racks in center. Line bottoms of three 8-by-2-inch buttered cake pans with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides with flour; tap out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger into a medium bowl. Add ground pecans, and whisk to combine; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating each time until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; scrape down sides twice.
With the mixer set on low, add flour mixture to sugar-butter mixture, alternating with milk, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture; scrape down bowl twice. Beat in grated ginger and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans if necessary for even browning.

Transfer pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and return to wire racks, tops up; let cool.

Meanwhile, place creme fraiche in a medium bowl, and whip with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add bourbon and confectioners' sugar; beat until soft peaks return. Cover, and refrigerate to firm, about 1 hour.

To assemble cake, remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Set aside prettiest layer; it will be used for top of cake. Place one layer on serving platter, and spread with half the creme-fraiche filling; repeat with second layer. Top cake with reserved third. Chill cake while icing is being prepared. Pour the icing onto the center point on the top of the cake, and let it flow down the sides. When the icing has set slightly, 5 to 10 minutes, arrange the pecan halves and crystallized ginger on the top. Serve.
Directions for Glossy Caramel Icing: Makes 1 1/2 cups
Do not let the sugar get too hot while melting; the hotter caramel is, the more it will harden when it cools, making the cake difficult to slice.

Place sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Let cook until it begins to melt and turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes. As sugar melts, stir with back of a wooden spoon if needed, until amber colored, and registers about 310 degrees on candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes.
Slowly pour cream into skillet; be careful as you pour, because it will splatter. Reduce heat to medium low, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring; hardened caramel will melt into cream and become soft and liquid. Change to a whisk; continue stirring slowly to minimize bubbles until completely smooth, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour icing directly onto chilled prepared cake. If caramel becomes too stiff to pour, warm over a double boiler.


5 orange potatoes said...

Yummy!!!! What a fantastic daughter you are to make your mama such a beautiful cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I LOVE giner!

Lisa :)

Mountain Sketch said...

I somehow just clicked over to your blog and wanted to tell you what a beautiful cake! It looks delicious!!