3 Cakes in 4 Days
We had a birthday in the family this past weekend. When I was a kid, birthdays were not made much of and I think I was always a bit disappointed in that, so I try to make birthdays for my boys fun. They get to choose a special activity for the day and I always bake a cake of their choosing. This year, my younger son had a rare treat: two birthday parties! We had a framily party on Friday and a pool party with his friends on Saturday. This, of course, meant that I had to make two cakes! Both cakes were recipes I had never made before. This is what happens when you let the child look through the cookbooks and choose his own cakes. I was not daunted, however. I am no stranger to making cakes, so I was pretty confident that all would be well. Unfortunately, this turned out to be not the case for one of them.
The first cake my beloved son chose was a fluffy looking cake from this book. It consists of a chiffon cake layered with dulce de leche and topped with seven minute frosting. I made the cake earlier on the week and should have known something was wrong with the recipe when I made it. I am not too familiar with chiffon cakes, though, so I did not catch the problem right away, though I did think it was odd. When I mixed the dry ingredients with the wet it was really stiff; more like biscuit dough than cake batter. I forged on, however, and baked it up. Unfortunately, it turned out terribly. The dulche de leche was great and the seven minute frosting came out fluffy and beautiful looking, but the cake was dry and tough. It was like trying to chew through a dry sponge. It was sad for the birthday boy. Not only did they not have his beloved mac & cheese at the restaurant he picked, but he couldn’t even finish his piece of cake because it was yucky. We actually threw the remainder of the cake away. I haven’t done that in ages.
Anyway, the next day’s cake was the opposite of the first cake. This was a neaopolitan bundt cake. It was a basic vanilla butter cake base which came together like a dream. You put one third of the batter into the pan and divide the remainder into two portions. Then, you add strawberry jam to one portion and chocolate syrup and cocoa powder to another portion. See?
This cake turned out beautifully. I wish I had a picture of the inside of the cake to show you, but when one is serving 15 kids, it is difficult to stop and take pictures. When I was done serving, the cake was all gone. In fact, the husband and I had to split the last piece. It was chocolate in the middle with a layer of strawberry around that and the vanilla encased the whole thing. Topped with a strawberry glaze and chocolate frosting, it was like eating a cake version of an ice cream sundae. This recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen’s Summer Desserts magazine. The birthday boy declared it to be much better than the other cake and he ate his whole piece, so I was happy.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would have the energy to make this week’s TWD recipe, Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake, after all the cake baking I had already done. Plus, I was really hesitant after my chiffon cake disaster on Friday. However, I had a couple of nectarines staring at me on the counter yesterday and I managed to find a pretty cheap ten inch springform pan to use. I am sorry I have no photos of the process to show you. It was a dim, rainy day and I was trying to get this cake together while playing a game of monopoly with the family at the same time. I will say that this chiffon cake batter was totally different from the other one I made. It was fluffy and not dry at all. I had no problem folding in the egg whites. The only problem I had was the pan was too small. What is up with that? I went out specially to buy a ten inch pan and it was still too small? It had a little muffin top thing going on when I pulled it out after an hour and twenty minutes.
There was also a good bit of leakage from the pan. Anyway, I just cut off the excess around the edges and it was fine.
I used two nectarines for the outer ring and one and a half pluots for the inner ring of fruit. I could tell right away that this cake was moist, fluffy, and light. I was a little worried that the center was still gooey, but is was not.
The boys loved it. The husband thought it was too sweet, but then, he says that about a lot of things. I loved the lemony chiffon cake and the almond streusel layer had a nice texture and flavor to go with the cake, though I would have eaten it and been happy without it. This is probably my tenth upside down cake this summer and it was by far the most complicated. I have to say that, even though I loved the chiffon cake, I am not sure I would use it for an upside down cake again. The fruit sort of crushes the cake so that you lose a lot of the fluffy texture, though it is still super soft and moist. The cake just doesn’t seem sturdy enough for the topping.
Still, I think it was worth the trouble. It’s the sort of thing one might make for a special occasion. I am especially glad I made this cake after the two previous cakes. Finally, we have a yummy cake that we can keep all to ourselves!