Monday, August 25, 2014

Insight and an "Old Fashioned" Cocktail Cake

What is your dream (job)? But really what are your dreams in life?  The first question, is my favorite interview question to ask.  What is it that you truly would love to do if nothing was holding you back?  Not money, time, nothing could get in the way.  I ask this even though I myself don’t have one dream.  I love meeting planning, I would love to learn more about “fun” event planning and get to do that in the future, but baking for a living is another dream.  I mean it’s probably okay to have a few life goals around ones’ career, right? 

Ever since reading this article ("No Time to Think") that Joy the Baker shared a couple of weeks ago, I am have been really trying to figure myself out.  To try and see how others see me, and think about what I really want to be doing, what would make me happier.  Don’t get me wrong, I probably took the completely wrong thing from this article, but it left me thinking. 

On our train ride to New York the other weekend, when I was trying to guess what hotel we were staying at by asking Charles a series of questions, I learned some things about myself.  I was asking questions like, if the hotel was going to be in a New York based movie what movie would it be in?  If it was a fruit, what would it be? (Just a simple banana or is it an exotic passion fruit)  Then I started turning the questions around on us, which ultimately led to me asking him if I was a cake, what kind of cake would I be? (...this is strange I know.) Which led to me learning how I can come off to others, from Charles’ perspective, as a cake covered in ganache, but with funfetti cake on the inside.  So apparently I have a harder exterior and you have to get to know me, to see the inside that is friendly, colorful and fun.  I didn’t take offense to this, but instead think it’s really good to know.  It gives me something to work on, especially when it is not the first time I have heard this. 

So stripping off the hard exterior and adding a little liquid courage to this cake; I will start trying to not be so “hard” on the outside.  This cake was made for a co-worker’s 30th birthday.  He jokingly said he wanted a drink for his birthday, which I came back and said well I could do a drink in cake form.  This cake is epitome of an Old Fashioned in cake form.  A vanilla cake that has more of a smooth pound cake texture and just a hint of orange.  The middle layer was frosting mixed with chopped maraschino cherries, so that even the cherry was present in the cake.  Now about this frosting, it is what really makes it an Old Fashioned cake.  The frosting has the base of a normal buttercream, but with bourbon, bitters, orange juice and zest.  This frosting tasted like an Old Fashioned in frosting form.  This cake came out exactly the way I wanted it to, and I can’t wait to make it again.  Enjoy!

Early morning runs are all about the sunrises with a view in DC.  It really lets me start the day off with a clear head and on the right foot....well and left or I would be hopping on my leg for longer than I would ever care to.

Cake from coworker asked if those we Cheetos on top...which no they are not...its orange peel.  Come on folks its an Old Fashioned Cake.

And from the side"ish".

Inside shot...check out those cherries.

Old Fashioned Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, broken into a small bowl
2 tablespoon orange zest, from 2 large orange
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup orange juice

Old Fashioned Buttercream: (recipe adapted from Serious Eats)
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8-9 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted through a strainer
1/2 cup whiskey, such as Jack Daniel’s
16-18 dashes Angostura bitters
1 1/2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
9 maraschino cherries, chopped

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  Using a measure out the orange juice and milk together in own measuring cup. Set aside.

4.  In the bowl of stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until creamed, light and fluffy (3-4 minutes).  Mix in the eggs one at a time and then add in the vanilla extract and orange zest until fully combined.

5.  Next, (I then do this step by hand) using a whisk mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Then whisk in 1/2 of the orange/milk mixture until combined.  Continue the process, finishing with the remaining dry ingredients.

6.  Pour the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the cakes about halfway through the baking process.  Bake until golden brown on top and toothpick tester comes out clean.  Let cakes cool to room temperature on cooling rack.  While the cakes are cooling prepare the frosting.

7.  In the bowl of the stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Then mix in half of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  Next mix in the whiskey, bitters, orange juice and orange zest until fully incorporated.  Then mix in the remaining powdered sugar.  Continue to mix the frosting until all of the powdered sugar is combined and desired consistency is reached.

8.  Once the cakes have cooled, remove from pans.  Select which cake will be the bottom layer.  If rounded on top, use a serrated knife to cut off the top to make flat.  Take about 3/4 cup of the frosting and in a small bowl mix it with the chopped cherries.  Then using the regular frosting on the bottom layer, create a sort of border by going around the diameter of the cake with about 1/2 inch of frosting.  Then fill the inside with the frosting mixed with cherries.  This is to help prevent the outside of the cake from turning red from the cherries.  Then place the top layer on top, and frost the cake, sides and top, with a very thin layer of frosting to create a crumb coat since this cake is very crumbly.  Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  Then remove from the refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream.  Top with twisted orange peels if desired.  Serve right away or store at room temperature and Enjoy!

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