Dec 16, 2009

Last Cake, Next Cake

The carrot cake was a huge hit. Both at my house and at my office, everyone who tried it loved it. The other blogs also reported successes, as well. For Vicki, it's the "new favorite in her house." Sherrie described the cake as "dusky and mildly spicy," a description I like, and said she'd definitely be making both cake and frosting again. Raymond tells a good story about his first taste of carrot cake and its association with Three Dog Night. I'm not kidding. He says this "definitely heavenly" version still makes him want to go listen to Three Dog Night. Carrot cake is Raymond's version of Proust's madeleines.

The FEATURED BAKER this week is lanier. This is her sixth cake in the Bake-Along, and she says she decided to keep this one simple, because she didn't have to take it anywhere. She halved the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 9" Pyrex pan, so it was simplicity itself. No worries about getting the layers out of the pan or lining them up or frosting the sides (which, to me anyway, is the hardest part). I'm in awe of the bakers who make the recipes more difficult, so I really relate to those who decide to keep things easy. And with good reason--although this is only the second carrot cake lanier has ever made, her first one--an Easter cake--was decorated by a hand-made (husband-made) stencil of a bunny, filled in with sprinkled cinnamon. So if you go to lanier's blog, you can not only see her current carrot cake but also link to her first one. Nice job on both cakes! Lanier describes Rose's version as "a moist, homey cake with a lovely balance of spice and sweetness." I agree.

My gift to you during this busy season is two cakes in a row that are on the Quick-and-Easy list. Next week is the English Gingerbread Cake. There are no special ingredients for this cake, although Muscovado sugar is listed as "preferable" to plain old dark brown sugar, but you can use any dark brown sugar from any grocery store. You can also use either Lyle's Golden Syrup or light corn syrup. I highly recommend using the golden syrup if you can find it--it has a much deeper and more interesting taste. I made this cake for a party, and I won't say anything more about it except to warn you to be sure to follow the instructions to spray the wire racks before you flip the cake over. I am quite religious about doing that, but I forgot this time and the top of the cake stayed with the wire rack. It wasn't a disaster, just annoying.

In contrast, you might as well start looking at the recipe for the following cake, the pinecone cake, right now. And then read it over every day until it's time to bake it because the directions are complicated. I talked to Woody about this cake and he gave these hints: be sure to get glycerin ahead of time--it's not easy to find--and be sure to use latex or vinyl gloves when you make the fondant. I found glycerin at The Kitchen Window. While I was there, I noticed a tub of readymade dark chocolate fondant. "Look, Jim, I said--if I buy this fondant, I won't have to make it. And no one will ever know." He said, "Wouldn't that be cheating?" "Yes, I guess it would be," I said sorrowfully, and I passed it by. Also recommended for the fondant is Spectrum white vegetable shortening. If you go to the Spectrum web site and type in your zip code, you'll get the stores closest to you that carry this shortening.

16 comments:

gartblue said...

Marie .. you're right .. I'm so glad that you've chosen easy ones and I am so looking forward to the next cake .. the Pine Cone cake gave me nightmares, I kid you not!

Jenn said...

Whole Foods carry Spectrum vegetable shortening. I believe King Sooper's carries it too.

Rebecca said...

I agree with Marie on the golden syrup... use it if you can! it's very easy to get in australia being a british thing... not sure if the golden syrup there is the same as here but it is very delicious... there are lots of great recipes using it and you can just eat it on toast with butter. I could never get it when I lived in Canada and once had my mum post me two jars of it... very expensive, but worth it :)

faithy, the amateur baker said...

I can't find spectrum here in Singapore only crisco. But glycerine and golden syrup not a problem. However, i think i'm going to take the lazy way out and use the RTR chocolate fondant. I have lots to do..and i haven't done my Christmas shopping yet!..and Christmas is only next week!

lanier said...

Thanks for the feature Marie!
As for the next cake, I cannot find Lyle's so I was thinking about using molasses, what do you think?

Rebecca said...

i'm not sure how using molasses would go... golden syrup is lighter, sweeter and without the bitterness of molasses... it might be worth a try, though definitely a light molasses, or maybe treacle as according to wikipedia, golden syrup is a light treacle.... maybe use light brown sugar instead with the treacle?

ButterYum said...

Marie - you're making me so homesick for MN. I loved shopping at The Kitchen Window - can't even begin to tell you how much cash I've parted with at that place!

Hanaâ said...

I finally made the carrot cake last night. I loved Lanier's idea of baking half the recipe in a glass Pyrex pan, so that's what I did. It turned out great. I used my "standby" Cream Cheese frosting, only because I had it in the freezer anyway. I topped it with shaved white choc to kinda make up for not following the frosting recipe.

Marie, please tell me where you buy Golden Syrup. I went to Kowalski's a week or 2 ago just for that but couldn't find it. I found Spectrum shortening at the Natural/Organic Food section at both Cub and Rainbow.

My friend made this cake a while back and used light corn syrup, and wished she had used dark corn syrup instead, as the light corn syrup didn't add any flavor. I guess that would make a good substitute.

Hanaâ said...

Btw, glycerin can be found at Michaels too. It's by Wilton.

Nancy B said...

For those looking for golden syrup in the U.S.: two years ago I was only able to find it at a store specializing in British imports (Taste of Britain, here in Atlanta). Now one of the local Publix stores has quite a nice selection of British import food items, including Lyle's Golden Syrup.

I've found Publix to be quite accommodating on special food items, so if you can't find the golden syrup and Publix is in your market, you can try requesting that a local store order it. They have a Web page for submitting requests.

ButterYum said...

Hanaa - try Byerly's. I believe that's where I purchased Lyle's in MN.

ButterYum said...

In Virginia and Pennsylvania, I've purchased Lyle's Golden Syrup in Safeway and Wegmans.

Hanaâ said...

Thanks for the tip, Patricia. I just called Byerly's and they sure carry it. Not in the baking section but rather in the pancake section with all the other syrups. So maybe Kowalski's carry it too and I just didn't look in the right place.

Marie said...

I just picked up some Spectrum shortening at Whole Foods today, so I'm set to tackle the fondant tomorrow night. It gives me nightmares too, gartblue.
About the syrup and what to substitute if you can't find Lyle's, I don't think I'd use molasses, because I think that would overwhelm the other flavors. I only had a half-bottle of golden syrup left, so I used Karo light for the rest of the syrup, and the cake was still delicious. I did check Whole Foods for Lyle's today, and they didn't carry it; at least the tiny one that I stop at on my way home from work didn't have it.

Baking Sorceress' Apprentice said...

Thanks everyone for the very helpful comments and hints! It is so nice to be a part of such a supportive group. I am feeling a bit unnerved about the pine-cone cake, but I know I need to take it as a challenge, so am preparing in advance. At least I won't have to scour for the ingredients, thanks to all of you! joan

evil cake lady said...

hey cake bakers, i found lyle's golden syrup at my local QFC (the quality food center--don't know why but that name cracks me up). i don't know if QFC is national or not, but if you have one, look for lyle's with the maple syrups!