The Hamburgler took over my Birthday Cake!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Let's pretend I had never baked a cake in my life. Let's pretend I never cook. If today had been my first experience in the kitchen, I may have yanked off my Mom's 1985- red-and-white-gingham-and-lace-sweetheart-front-apron and hung it up by it's cute, pearly buttons in the corner of my kitchen. It would have hung in the kitchen on a hook in all its' tacky gloriousness, mocking me for what happened today. For those of you who have never seen my apron, it's awesome. It really is my Mom's and I'm pretty sure she got it in 1985. It should have a name, any suggestions?

I'm going to the lake for my birthday, a place where big, beautiful cakes do not belong. I didn't want to spend too much time on my cake for fear of it falling in the water, or melting. (Those of you who know I've dropped my Iphone in water twice know where I'm coming from.) But, I do want to feel like a kid again and have a real-live birthday cake I made with love for all my friends and husband to enjoy. Well, I guess I have that, thanks to The Cake Doctor. But, it's not too pretty!

When it comes to cakes and frosting... I rarely start with a box, but there's certainly nothing wrong with it. My Mom gave me "The Cake Doctor Returns" for Christmas this year. It's a cookbook filled with desserts: pound cakes, bundt cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, bars, brownies, and cookies. The author, Anne Byrn, is known for starting her recipes with a box mix but "doctoring" it up, to make it taste homemade and not generic. This is my first experience with Byrn's bright ideas and this recipe was definitely harder than it looked. However, I remember my Mom baking some knock-out cakes from Byrn's previous book a few times growing up... maybe I'll give it another shot. Well, sifting through the beautiful pictures, I earmarked about 7 ideas for my birthday cake. I tossed the ideas back and forth with my Mom and some friends. I settled upon "Smith Island Cake" for it's Reese's peanut butter cup topping and beautiful layers of vanilla cake with fudgy chocolate icing.

Smith Island Cake, according to The Cake Doctor, comes from Maryland's Smith Island. It's famous for thin layers of yellow cake. You achieve these thin layers by baking 4 rounds, then splitting them in half horizontally. She even states in the book: "Splitting layers has nothing to do with splitting hairs" ... I beg to differ Cake Doctor!! My cake looks like the Hamburgler threw up all over it! I'm sure it tastes fabulous, it should for the amount of time I spent on those layers.

For the Cake
8 Reese's peanut butter cups
Spray for misting the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package IGA plain yellow cake mix
1 1/2 C evaporated milk or whole milk
8 TBSP (1 stick) butter
1 TSP Vanilla Extract
4 Large Eggs

For the Frosting
12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C Plus 3 TBSP evaporated milk
1 TSP Vanilla
6 C Confectioners' sugar, SIFTED

1. Place the peanut butter cups in freezer.
2. Make the cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly mist four 9-inch round cake pans with spray, then dust them with flour. Shake our the excess flour and set pans aside.
3. Place cake mix, 1 1/2 C milk, 8 TBSP butter, 1 TSP vanilla, and the eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well mixed, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth, 1 1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the 4 prepared cake pans, about 1 3/4 cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula. Put the pans in the oven, placing 2 pans on the center rack and 2 on the rack above.
4. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 10 - 12 minutes (The baking time is short here because the batter has been divided among 4 baking pans). Rotate the pans after the layers have baked for 5 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Let the layers cool completely. 10 - 15 minutes.

5. meanwhile, remove the peanut butter cups from the freezer. Place 3 peanut butter cups in a good processor, pulse the machine to make small chunks, and set these aside for garnish. Pulse the remaining 5 peanut butter cups to a fine powder and set aside.
6. make frosting: Melt the 12 TBSP butter in large saucepan over low heat, 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in the cocoa powder and 1/2 C plus 3 TBSP milk. Cook 1 minute longer, stirring until the mixture thickens and just begins to come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the 1 TSP Vanilla and confectioner's sugar continuing to stir until frosting is thickened and consistency of hot fudge sauce. To keep the icing from hardening, place the saucepan over low heat while frosting the layers.
7. To assemble the cake, using a long, serrated knife, carefully slice each cake layer in half horizontally to make 8 layers. Place the bottom half of one layer, cut side up, on a cake plate and spoon about 1/4 Cup of the frosting on top, spreading it evenly to the edge.

Sprinkle about 1 TBSP of the powdered peanut butter cups over the frosting. Place the top half of this layer, right side up, over the frosting. add another 1/4 C of the frosting and spread it to the edge. Then sprinkle another TBSP of powdered peanut butter cups over it. Repeat with the remaining layers, then frost the top of the cake and sprinkle the reserved chunks of peanut butter cups over it.

I hope I don't sound too harsh! It's probably a delicious cake! The layers were harder to cut in half than she led on in her book and I even cheated in the middle by NOT cutting one of the layers in half. So, I think my layer birthday cake is 6 layers instead of 8. I think we will enjoy it and I will definitely re-post my thoughts when I get back from the lake. Enjoy your day! And as always, Mangia! Mangia! xxoo


ErinsFoodFiles said...

I think it looks good! I'd definitely still eat it!

Courtney Wise said...

Thanks girl, it WAS good, but looked like a hot mess!

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