Thursday, January 26, 2012

Walnut Cake

There's a lot in the tea book I haven't made.  Generally, it's because they have specific ingredients in them and I didn't plan ahead.  But I did have what I needed for this one, and whipped it up quickly.

Every so often, a recipe in a cookbook is flawed.  You make it exactly how the recipe states, but it doesn't work.  Usually, this is because the book was a collaborative effort and everyone just trusted that the others knew what they were doing.  I have a Post-it in the Bible over the pita bread recipe that warns me not to make it.  Sometimes, there's a typo and an ingredient is accidentally omitted.  Anyway, this so-called cake batter was exceptionally thick and came out of the oven more like a cookie.  At this point, I became determined to fix the cake.  I flipped through the Bible and other recipes in the tea book and wrote a new recipe.  This time, it rose like a cake is supposed to and had the correct consistency.

Fortunately, I have a whole bunch of cute, small cake pans of various sizes.  The 6" uses half the batter of an 8".  When I made Techie Smurf and Writer Smurf's wedding cake, I had to calculate the amount of batter for 6", 10", and 14" pans.  It was the most math I had done in a long time, but the layers came out the same height.  In this case, I decided to do my waistline a favor and make a 1/3 recipe in the 6" pan and just slice it into two thinner layers, rather than bake two very thin 6" and hope I didn't over-bake them.

A huge tip for any frosted cake: bake it the day ahead.  Freeze it.  Defrost it halfway, then slice it into layers if you need to, and frost it before it thaws completely.  This almost eliminates breakage and reduces the crumbs picked up by the spreader.

3/4 C margarine (not butter)
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C milk
*1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla
*1-1/2 C cake flour
2 Tb baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1.  Cream together sugar and margarine until fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and milk in stages and continue to beat until smooth.

2.  Grease two 8" cake pans, then line bottoms with waxed paper so cake can be easily removed.  Preheat oven to 350º.

3.  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into wet ingredients, then beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Fold in chopped walnuts.  Pour batter into two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack and remove waxed paper.  Allow to cool thoroughly before frosting or freezing.

Buttercream Icing (Care of Wilton)
1/2 C butter (not margarine)
1/2 C shortening
1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla (use vanilla powder for a whiter icing)

1.  Cream together butter and shortening.  In stages, whip in powdered sugar and vanilla.  If icing is too stiff, beat in milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

2.  Place a dab of icing on cake circle.  Trim one cake layer flat if necessary.  Place one layer of cake upside-down on cake circle.  Spoon a generous dollop on top and spread evenly to make filling layer.

3.  Place other layer right-side up on filling.  If you trimmed the layer flat, place it upside-down for easier spreading.  Spoon remaining frosting on top and work around top of cake and down sides.

4.  For smooth, glazed look, refrigerate cake once it's as smooth as you can get it.  Once icing is set, heat offset metal spatula over the stove.  Use flat side of hot spatula to melt the icing slightly into a smooth coating.  It may even sizzle.  Garnish with walnut halves and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes one 8" layer cake

Difficulty rating :)

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