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Pecan and Whipped Cream Cake (Twitter Made Me Bake It Edition)


Even though my professional life revolves around creating multimedia content for websites, I am a social media skeptic. I don’t know why I’m so contrary, but there it is. So when we were assembling Wonderland Kitchen and Brian twisted my arm to adopt my @wonderlandk handle, I’ll admit that I was a reluctant Tweeter. Still, I picked out a few foodies to follow, and enjoyed lurking in the digital shadows, checking in on their chatter and lovely recipes from time to time. When one particularly delicious blogger announced his latest cake creation, I threw in my first comment:

I promptly wondered why I’d bothered. Then, a few seconds later, a response popped up:

We went back and forth like that a few more times, and even though it was about a minute of total mental effort, it stuck with me afterward. Here we were, two strangers unlikely to have otherwise ever traded a word in our lifetimes, suddenly connected by cake. It was sweet, simple, and only existentially soul-shaking if you stared at it too hard. (Ahem.)

Flash forward to today, and I made this cake, and @rvank sent his good wishes, and now I’ll take it along, over river/through woods, to the Thanksgiving feast we plan to share with our family tomorrow. The world feels a little closer, a little warmer as a result of these casual connections, so a shout from Wonderland to everyone out there reading and cooking this weekend: We here in this kitchen raise a glass to you and yours, wishing you all the best as we celebrate the bounty of the season.

And now, the cake! This recipe reminds me how much more I love baking when you can weigh your ingredients. So pull out your kitchen scale and let’s get to it. Thanksgiving is only a few hours away!

Pecan and Whipped Cream Cake

adapted by Chasing Delicious from a Bo Friberg recipe (Thanks to @rvank for the recipe and inspiring my purchase of a cake carrier to protect it during transport.)

4 ounces pecans
1 ounce powdered sugar
5 ounces bread flour
4 ounces cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
11 ounces granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Place pecans and powdered sugar together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until nuts are broken down just a bit rougher than a meal. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, and add in the flours, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a second bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a third bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla together for several minutes. Then, using a wide spatula, fold half of the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture, followed by half of the whipped cream. Repeat the process again with the remaining portions of each, fully incorporating but taking care not to over-mix and deflate the batter.

Pour into the prepared bundt pan and smooth with the spatula. Place in the preheated oven and immediately reduce the baking temperature to 325°F.* Bake for 45-50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the cake won’t be clean, should come out with crumbs sticking to it, not raw batter. Cool on a rack, then loosen and turn out onto your serving platter. It should fall right out, but a light dusting of powdered sugar will disguise most removal-inflicted scars.

*I forgot this step and found myself flying back down the stairs five minutes later. Disaster averted, I still ended up baking my cake for closer to 53 minutes, which is typical of my oven. Here’s hoping I judged correctly; bread I have down, but cakes still make me nervous.

Hey Honey, It’s Your Birthday*


In embarrassing Libra fashion, I must have changed my mind w/r/t the type of cake I wanted to make for the now annual Libra birthday party at least five times. Last year’s entry was a hit, so I was feeling the follow-up pressure, it’s true. But more than that, there’s also finally a full-on fall chill in the air, so I wanted something more rich and comforting than sharply sugary.

Kitten and I wait for the cake to bake. Which one will it be?

Still, the options were myriad. First, there was the red wine and chocolate idea, then the bundt cake thought, a browse or two through the photos on Tastespotting, a passing fancy with Baked’s White Out cake (which I thought might compliment Rebecca’s trial of the salty chocolate and caramel one) but just reading about the icing made my teeth hurt. Whether deemed too sweet or not fancy enough for a celebration, nothing felt like it would fit comfortably in with a casual evening house party in October.

Then I remembered that cream cheese and maple syrup frosting, and landed pretty quickly on this pumpkin cake. Seems the David Leite recipe has already done a do-se-do or two around the internet, but it’s definitely worth another dance.

*For all those who grew up with Captain Zoom’s birthday message from the moon, a nostalgia ride can be found here.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
as seen on Leite’s Culinaria

To make the cake

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour, plus more for the pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Bring butter and eggs up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°. You’ll need two cake pans (8-inch if you have them, but 9-inch won’t ruin your cake). Butter each pan, line the base with parchment paper, butter that surface, and flour the entire interior of both pans.

Measure out the sugars into one bowl, and the remaining dry ingredients into another. Run a whisk around each bowl to evenly incorporate.

Beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides (and bottom! I had some sugar that got stuck there) of the mixing bowl after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Divide the batter equally between the pans.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the cakes on racks in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove, peel off parchment, and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Pecans, toasted and roughly chopped, to garnish

Beat all the ingredients (minus the pecans) on medium until fluffy. Place bottom layer of cake on serving plate or stand, frost the top, and place the remaining cake on top. Continue frosting the sides and top, garnish with nuts and remaining icing (rosettes are actually really easy to do), and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.


Having Our Cake


I realized the other day that “celebration” always equals “food” in my mind. When someone’s general awesomeness or recent accomplishments need acknowledging, I make reservations.

What I don’t usually do is bake for them, and in a culture where sugar is shorthand for love, that can be problematic. Cakes and cookies step beyond my skill set and outside of my palette preferences, so when the Three Points cooks decided that there would be cake(!) in honor of our 1st anniversary (that’s right, ladies and gents, we are cruising past 365 days and 152 posts), I was thoroughly stumped. Luckily, the dessert cart rolled to me. Celebrating her own six-years-and-counting blog anniversary, the Wednesday Chef featured a banana cake recipe from LA’s Clementine Bakery that sounded like it would suit both the happy occasion and my level of expertise especially well: a single layer situation topped with a simple cream cheese icing. And come on, fruit was even involved! This was no triple-decker, double chocolate fudge bomb with sprinkles on top. This would be wholesome joy.

I actually believed all that “good for me” posturing right up to the part where I was measuring out equal portions of pastry flour and white sugar into my mixing bowl. With a tropical storm on the way, however, it seemed a poor time to count calories. I had thought about throwing in some walnuts or other “banana bread” kinds of additives, but this is really not that. This is 100% decadence, not breakfast. And it’s delicious. So to all those visitors out there, share in this bit of sweetness sent with love, with friendship, with thanks.