Friday, October 19, 2012

Birthday Cake

This is a slice of my birthday cake that I made for myself (and yes, I enjoy making my own cake).  It was a delicious ending to a very great birthday!  (A haircut in the morning (so great because it was getting a bit bushy and my bangs were getting in my eyes, plus an extra bonus...I didn't have to do my own hair), lunch at one of my favorites (Pizzeria 712) with some very lovely ladies, and dinner at my mom's).  It was a happy day!

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add pumpkin, sugar, oil and vanilla and beat well.  In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.  Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture until blended.  Pour half of the batter into each baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove cakes from the oven and let cook in baking pans for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a cooking rack to cool completely.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel

Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts.  Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt.  The sugar will begin to clump, just keep whisking and the clumps will melt as it continues to cook.  Stop whisking once the sugar has melted and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

Continue cooking until the sugar is a deep amber color and has reached 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.  As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees F, add the butter all at once.  Be careful because the caramel with bubble when the butter is added.  Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream into the caramel.  Whisk until all the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce (at this point, I pour mine through a fine mesh strainer to make sure there were no sugar clumps).  Add the Fleur de Sel and whisk to incorporate.

Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature.  The caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

*After my caramel cooled, it wasn't as thick as I wanted it (it was measuring at more than two cups) and so I put it back into the pot and cooked it over medium heat (low rolling boil) until it thickened a bit and measured at exactly two cups.

*As my caramel sauce sat on the counter in a bowl, I would lift a big spoonful of the caramel above the bowl and would let it drip slowly off the spoon back into the bowl.  The color was so amazing, dark and rich and it was just so smooth, I felt excited and tight inside (crazy, I know).

Recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker

Salted Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 ounces salted caramel sauce
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Place the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until creamy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again.  Mix in the salted caramel sauce.  Add the confectioners’ sugar a cup at a time.  Beat on high until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate
5 ounces heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream until it begins to simmer and steam.  Remove from heat and pour of the chocolate.  Let the cream sit for a few minutes, then stir the chocolate and cream together until a smooth, shiny ganache forms.  Set aside (don't let the ganache cool and harden).

Assemble the cake:  Trim any domed tops off both cakes and discard.  Slice each cake into two layers of similar thickness.  Set a base layer down (the bottom of one of the cakes will be on the bottom, reserve the other bottom for the top layer) on the top of cake stand with wax paper underlying the edges of the cake.  Spread a third of the chocolate ganache on the cake, then gently spread a half cup (or a little more) of the salted caramel cream cheese frosting over the ganache.  Gently set a second layer of cake on the base layer and repeat.  For the last cake layer, which should be a bottom layer, invert it so the cut side is face down.  Spread a thin layer (crumb coat) of the frosting around the sides and then frost the entire cake.  Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

Recipe inspired and adapted from Use Real Butter

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