Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday America Cake!

 
I baked you a cake!!!

My apologies for the tardiness of this post - I do have a jolly good reason and I did in all fairness to myself actually bake and eat this cake on July 4th, which in and of itself was a feat due to amazing humidity and general stickiness here in Maine - not your usual kind of weather in our usually coolish-even-in-summer fair state. Due to said stickiness my computer decided to do a lot of jumping and jiggling about when I attempted to use either the keyboard or stylus rendering me incapable of actually writing a post - when I wrote a snippet on Facebook the cursor would jump to the middle of a sentence when I was halfway through and I kept on writing not realizing this had happened thus making my comments a bunch of even worse than usual gobbledeegook - it was a very frustrating occurrence which did not rectify itself until the humidity dropped and the air cleared and hooray here I am now all cool and dry and able to write at will - yea!!!

I found this divine recipe via Pinterest Strawberry Banana Milkshake Cake at the Hungry Rabbit and decided I wanted to make the strawberry part as the jumping off point for my Independence Day cake - I knew I wanted a pink cake with strawberries and blueberries and white icing - I was going to cover the cake with just whipped cream for the British part of this honouring of the birthday of this great nation cake but it was too humid for whipped cream, I think it would have curdled and soured as I was taking the photos so I made a marshmallow icing/frosting which I was also leery about with the atmospheric conditions but hey it turned out really well and was very easy to boot!

Let's get started shall we!
This recipe is for a 6" cake made in one layer - double for a 9" cake with two separate layers.
Do keep some blueberries and strawberries reserved for decoration.
First I made a very simple blueberry jam - I just put half a punnet of blueberries (sadly the Maine wild blueberries weren't ready yet so I used New Jersey high bush blueberries which are larger) and about 3 heaped tablespoons of sugar together in a pan and gently heated them until the berries popped and the juice thickened a bit - then I left that to cool. You can sweeten more to taste as you chose.

Next was the strawberry part:
12ozs fresh strawberries

2oz/1/4 cup sugar

1. Put these 2 ingredients in a pan and heat until the strawberries are soft and the juices are flowing.

2. Put into a strainer and press to extract all the juices.

3. Put juice back into the pan and reheat and cook down until you get 1fluid ounce/ 1/8 cup of strawberry syrup.

4. Put solids in a blender and blend until smooth, set aside.

THE CAKE: Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

3 fluid ounces/3/8cup whole milk

3 large egg whites 

 1-2 drops red food colour

4 1/2ozs/ 1 1/8 cups white flour

1 3/4 ozs/ 3/8 cup malt milk powder - I forgot to get this so I used some toasted buckwheat groats ground up in the coffee grinder

  5ozs/ 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  2 teaspoons baking powder

  1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons soft, salted butter, cut into pieces - I always use Kate's.

Now here's an interesting way to make a cake I have not seen before - but it worked - thanks Hungry Rabbit

Prepare your 6" cake pan y buttering, lining with parchment and buttering and flouring ready for the batter.Have your oven at 350F

1. In a medium sized bowl whisk the strawberry syrup, milk and egg whites together until well blended.

2. In a separate bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together and then add bit by bit the soft butter - I don't have a mixer so I used two knives to 'cut' the butter into the dry mix - see this video for how to do that - keep on doing this until all the butter is cut in and the mix is pretty evenly sized.

3. Add half of the strawberry mix and blend until smooth.

4. Add rest of strawberry mix and again blend until smooth.

5. Add the red food colour if you want to make the cake a bit pinker - I added 2 drops and maybe should have added three for a bit more pink but then I also don't like the taste of red food colouring so actually I was happy with less pink and no red flavour. 

6. Pour batter into pan....
and bake for about 45 - 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (If you do double the recipe and do it in two pans the time should be about 20-22 minutes)

7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool about 10 minutes and then take cake out of pan and put on a cooling rack until completely cold.

8. Whilst cake is cooling whip 1 cup of cream with sugar to taste and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.

9. When the cake is completely cold cut in half horizontally.

10. Slather one half with blueberry 'jam'
11. Slather other half with strawberry 'jam':
12. Slather blueberry side with the whipped cream:
 13. Place one half on top of the other and put in the fridge whilst you make the easy peasy marshmallow frosting/icing.
Off to the fridge with you!!
MARSHMALLOW FROSTING:
I thought this was going to be really hard and also thought it may not work in the heavy humidity we were experiencing in Maine but I, happily, was wrong on both counts!! 

2 egg whites at room temperature (very important or the icing may not work half so well) 

6 ounces/ 3/4 cup sugar  - the recipe I used from an ancient British magazine said twice this amount of sugar which just seemed ridiculous so I went with the 6 ozs and it worked fine.

Large pinch of cream of tartar

2 tablespoons hot water.

1. Put all 4 ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water - don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the eggs will cook.

2. Whisk like crazy until the mixture forms soft peaks, and at this point it should be quite hot to the touch making your eggs safe if you are using commercial eggs.

3. Take the bowl off the heat and keep whisking until cool and about this thick:
 Isn't that beautiful?

Now take your cake out of the fridge and slather frosting on the little darling - I found the best way to do this was to pile it on the top of the cake and push it over the edge thus:
Now adorn as you see fit with your reserved blueberries and strawberries - I created a star with my strawberries and was very pleased with my self when I had finished :) 
This picture doesn't show it but the cake did come out a very pale pink
...and despite me using the buckwheat groats instead of the malted milk powder the taste was really nice - the buckwheat does give a nice toasted accent akin to a strong cereal flavour and the cake wasn't too sweet which was also good as the frosting certainly was. The frosting set very nicely and was a nice addition to this cake.

Here is my cake in front of the flag we hung for July 4th - isn't it the perfect flag for an Anglo/American couple - it is the Grand Union - the first official flag of the United States and the flag of George Washington, for whom, apparently, this cake should be made with cherries instead of strawberries - which I think would be just fine!!
I do hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th holiday and you'll consider making this cake all summer long.

The two designs I used in the background of some of these pictures are available ay my Spoonflower SHOP as fabric, wallpaper, decals and wrapping paper:
Americana Folkloric 
Americana Folkloric - HERE

Jacobean Strawberries by Patricia Shea
Jacobean Strawberries HERE 

HAPPY BAKING - if you do make this cake please consider posting your pictures on my Facebook page HERE - I'd be honoured.

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