Baking cakes can be addictive. First, there is the sheer variety of cakes you can make. Think about ingredients such as vanilla, chocolate, fruit, nuts, spices, butter, oil, and cream cheese; you can mix and match nearly all of these for different flavors and styles of cakes which means you've got a whole lot of baking in store for you. Then there is the perfection factor. Can you make the perfect cake that is moist, rich, evenly risen and masterfully decorated?
In case you're wondering, yes I've been bitten by the cake baking addiction lately. Feeding this addiction is Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes". Not only does it contain recipes for all of the variations above, but Rose has perfected each recipe and provides all the details for you to create the perfect version of each cake, making this book both a book to be read (perhaps multiple times) and one from which you'll find yourself baking time and time again.
The details on cake ingredients and Rose's rules for cake baking are sure to teach even the most accomplished cake baker a thing or two. Are you using cake strips? What is the temperature of your ingredients? And so forth.
The variety of cakes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes is probably the part that got me going the most. In comparison to general baking books with up to a dozen (at most) cakes, in this cake focused book Rose has provided about 100 cakes. And what selections they are. Cakes that caught my eye include Whipped Cream Cake, Swedish Pear and Almond Cake, Chocolate Banana Stud Cake, Black Chocolate Party cake and more.
For my first cake I choose what Rose states is her "signature" cake - the Lemon Poppy Seed-Sour Cream Cake. And with a newly purchased set of cake liners I also ventured into the realm non-bundt style cakes. You can probably guess the result of these baking experiences - I found a third reason that baking cakes is addictive - yup eating them! Fortunately, Rose's Heavenly Cakes has a lot more for me to try…
Lemon Poppy Seed-Sour Cream Cake
From Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Wiley, 2009)
Serves: 12 to 14
Baking Time: 45 to 55 minutes
A combination of sour cream batter filled with bursts of fresh lemon, this is my signature cake, grown up into a larger, ever more flavorful version. It is breathtakingly delicious-buttery and tender and melts in your mouth. I love the little crunch of poppy seeds, but the cake is also fabulous without them.
Plan Ahead: For best flavor, complete the cake 1 day ahead
|Batter ||Volume||Weight |
|2 large eggs, at room temperature || ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 fluid ounces)|| 3.5 ounces 100 grams|
|about 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature ||1 tablespoon (0.5 fluid ounce)|| 0.6 ounce 18 grams|
|sour cream ||¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon, divided || 7 ounces 200 grams|
|pure vanilla extract ||1¾ teaspoons || |
|cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) ||2½ cups (or 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons), sifted into the cup and leveled off ||8.7 ounces 250 grams|
|superfine sugar ||1¼ cups ||8.7 ounces 250 grams |
|baking powder ||1½ teaspoons || |
|baking soda ||½ teaspoon || |
|salt ||½ teaspoon || |
|lemon zest, finely grated||5 teaspoons, loosely packed || 0.5 ounce 10 grams|
|poppy seeds||1/3 cup|| 1.7 ounces 50 grams|
|unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) ||14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) || 7 ounces 200 gram|
Special Equipment: One 10-cup Nordic Ware Elegant Heart Pan or metal fluted tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour
Preheat the oven: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C (325°F/160°C if using a dark pan).
Mix the liquid ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolk, 1/4 cup of the sour cream, and the vanilla, just until lightly combined.
Make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
Bake the cake: Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the lemon syrup.
Make: 2/3 cup/5.3 fluid ounces/7 ounces/200 grams
|sugar ||½ cup plus 1 tablespoon ||4 ounces, 112 grams |
|lemon juice, freshly squeezed (2 large lemons) ||6 tablespoons (3 fluid ounces) ||3.3 ounces, 94 grams |
Make the lemon syrup: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure (or in a small saucepan over medium heat), heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow it to boil. Cover it tightly to prevent evaporation.
Apply the syrup and cool and unmold the cake: As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap airtight.
About Rose's Heavenly Cakes
This comprehensive guide will help home bakers to create delicious, decadent, and spectacularly beautiful cakes of all kinds with confidence and ease. With her precise, foolproof recipes, Rose shows you how to create everything from Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake, Golden Lemon Almond Cake, and Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache to Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake, Mud Turtle Cupcakes, and Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake.
Available at Amazon.com
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.