S'mores Cake (!!) and Experimentation with Flour

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Happy Sunday! Hope you all had a good weekend. The week starts new tomorrow. But first.....Cake.....cuz cake deserves a capital C and to be eaten on a day off.

My birthday was in July but we were travelling in Ontario. It just didn't make sense to have a birthday cake! So on a delay, I decided to make one of my favourites in late honour of the big yearly day: S'mores cake. The original recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (www.smittenkitchen.com). But I first came across it on Renee Kohlman's blog: Sweet Sugar Bean. (www.sweetsugarbean.com). Just read on her blog that she has a cook book coming out and I am so excited to read it!  Her writing and blogging is just lovely.



I had made the recipe a few times before, and noted that when using the mixer to make it, it made the cake quite tough and dry. Of course, in doing some reading about baking, I come time find out the aggressive mixing of mixer develops the gluten in the flour; making the cake dense in structure. 

A great article about gluten in flours here: http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-cake-flou-74565 

Next time I made the cake, I used AP flour but only hand folded and mixed during the wet-dry ingredient incorporation. A little better, but still not the texture I was looking for. 

So this time...I decided to try something new! (to me). Cake and pastry flour!  As I wasn't sure what I was going to end up with, I just bought a small package from the superstore (no name brand). I substituted the cake and pastry flour, cup for cup, for AP flour. 

I also read that you can make your own cake and pastry flour by mixing 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 cup minus two tablespoons of AP flour. Sift the two together repeatedly (4-5 times). 

Overall, the texture of the cake with the cake and pastry flour was markedly moister.  I think I am a convert! I would still definitely recommend hand incorporating the wet and dry ingredients to ensure maximum control and preventing over-mixing. 

S'mores cake with Salted Chocolate Ganache & Seven Minute "Marshmellow" Icing

Cake: 

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of flour (AP or cake and pastry)
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, processed in a blender or food processor until fine
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup of packed brown sugar
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temp
2 cups of buttermilk (buttermilk hack: add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let sit for 15 mins to curdle)

Ganache:
225 grams of milk chocolate (like Lindt), chopped 
3/4 cups of whipping cream
2 to 3 generous pinches of salt

Icing:
4 large egg whites
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/4tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9 inch cake pans and then line with circles of parchment paper.

Use a mixer to cream softened butter. Add sugars and whip until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each one. Add vanilla. Whip the mixture a few extra minutes to increase the size of the mixture. Set aside.

Sift together dry ingredients: flour, graham cracker flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon. Evenly mix. 

Fold in a third of dry ingredients into butter/egg/sugar mixture. Alternate with buttermilk until all is incorporated. Do not over mix.

Divide batter into cake pans.  Drop each pan gently on a counter surface or tabletop to remove bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick is clean. You need to make sure the cake is cooled fully before putting on ganache or icing.

To make the ganache: heat the whipping cream and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Let sit one minute and then whisk til smooth. Place in the fridge and then take out a whisk vigorously every 15 minutes or so until it is thick enough to spread.

To make the icing: After separating eggs, put the whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat safe bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until whites are warm to touch (approx. 3 minutes). Place in stand mixer bowl or use hand mixer to whip on high until stiff peaks are achieved. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

This is "Elsa" enjoying some leftover icing


Arrange bottom cake layer on a serving plate. If cake top is uneven, cut off top to make even and place cake, upside down, on the plate.


Spread on ganache and then top with second layer of cake. 


Spread on icing. If there is a time period between finished cake and serving, store in the fridge (especially in the summer since the icing tends to melt).



The cake is mostly eaten now. It's sad when birthday cakes are gone! But this cake would work for any time really. Hope to share some more baking recipes again soon!



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