Celebrations bring out the best in any kitchen and nothing says celebration like cake!
Cakes have been enjoyed since ancient times. In early times, cakes much more resembled fruit and nut breads, sweetened with honey. The word “cake” itself dates back to the 13th century and was derived from the old Norse word, “kaka”. I think we can all agree that the English version sounds more appetizing.
The first cakes to resemble the modern cakes of today, emerged in the mid 17th century. “Icing” was a boiled concoction of sugar, egg whites and flavorings. It was then poured over the cake which was returned to the oven. When it was removed, the icing cooled to form a hard, glossy, ice like shell.
No holiday table, whether for the family feast, holiday entertaining or potluck dinner, would be complete without a glorious cake. But, the dilemma is in the choosing of which cake should grace the table with so many to choose from.
Of course there are the basic flavors but for something extra special, I’d choose a spice cake or perhaps an orange cranberry and I’ll give you the recipe for both.
Cranberry Orange Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1 Tbsp orange zest from one large orange
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk room temperature
1/2 cup orange juice fresh squeezed, from the orange
1 cup (heaping) cranberries , coated in 1 Tbsp flour
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8″ cake pans and line with parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
Cream butter and orange zest until smooth. Add sugar and beat on med until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins).
Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
Alternate adding flour mixture with milk & orange juice, beginning and ending with flour Fully incorporating after each addition.
Toss cranberries in 1 Tbsp of flour. Gently fold cranberries into cake batter.
Spread batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
Bake for 25-30mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack.
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground cloves.
Cream the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately beginning and ending with the dry.
When the batter is well mixed and smooth, divide it among the 3 prepared cake pans and bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely.
Perfect Sugar Cookies
2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
(For mine, I added cinnamon for color for one of the cakes.)
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed. Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.
Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough. If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.
Add eggs slowly and mix. Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.
Add vanilla. Stir briefly.
Sift your dry ingredients together. (Flour, salt).
Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. .
Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll into 1/4″ thick rounds. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat.
Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. They will then hold their shape better when baked.
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.
Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.
Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!
(I melted while candie melts in the microwave then placed into a piping bag to decorate the cookies. Add a dollop of melted candie melts to the back of cookies to attach popsicle sticks)
If the cake layers have domed a little during the baking process, slice off the tops with a long serrated knife so they are flat and even.
Place a dab of frosting onto the cake plate to anchor the cake then place the first layer, cut side down, on a cake pedestal or serving plate. Spoon about 3/4 cup of the frosting onto the center of the cake. Spread it almost to the very edges with an offset spatula. Pipe a ring around the edge with a large circle tip. Repeat with the remaining 2 layers. Frost lightly around the cake, dragging the spatula around it so that most of the frosting is removed and the layers are revealed if a ” Naked Cake” is the look you prefer. Lightly frost the top layer. Decorate with cookies and drizzle with caramel sauce.
Quick Butter Cream:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cream Cheese Buttercream:
2 cups unsalted butter room temperature. 1 Tbsp orange zest. 8 oz cream cheese full fat, softened. 5 cups powdered sugar. 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup cold water and stir to combine. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar has turned a deep amber hue, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan. When the caramel is ready, slowly whisk in the warm cream and continue simmering the mixture until it is smooth, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then whisk in the butter, and then the salt, to taste.