Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cinnamon Dolce Latte Cake

Of all places for baking inspiration to hit, did you expect it to be Starbucks, yep neither did I. For reasons I will not go into a couple of weeks ago I found myself in Starbucks, with my dear friend and fellow coffee snob Teresa. Neither of use are really Starbucks kind of girls. I would much prefer a plan cup of blue bottle or a latte from Ritual and when I am in a pinch and need a cup of joe and I only have chain options Peet's is my choice. Generally I do not do sweet in my coffee, I like to taste all the delightful earthiness, and the warm roasted flavor. Sometimes though I don't really want coffee I want drinkable dessert of sorts. When this is what I am craving, Starbucks always does the trick. Luckily Teresa did not judge me to much. Even there plain soy lattes taste sweet to me. Anyway I ordered a cinnamon dolce latte only to be left with the thought "wouldn't this make a delightful cake".

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I find myself in my kitchen baking just that. Armed with my trusty dusting and always growing collection of cookbooks I mapped out a game plan. This cake would combine three elements each taking on a distinct flavor of the Latte in question. Cinnamon spiced white cake, with a layer of caramel in the center and frosted with Latte flavored frosting would come together to create Amber's Cinnamon Dolce Latte Cake. In the end I added a little cinnamon to the frosting which turned out to be my favorite part of the cake. This frosting will go on other cakes, I think it would be absolutely wonderful on a chocolate cake.

Once I had my game plan I started with the cake. I used my very old Joy of Cooking (it was my grandmother's the 1964 addition) for the base of the cake recipe (white cake). This is the only part of the cake I was not completely pleased with and I think it is mostly due to not quite understanding my oven yet. It took much longer to
cook than the recipe called for and then turned out a little dry at the edges. Lets just say there was a lot of trimming involved with the final product. But the flavor was spot on.
The Cake

While letting the cake cool I whipped up some caramel for the center. I used the recipe in the Tartine cookbook, because well I have NEVER made something from this cookbook, no matter how much I fucked up the recipe that did not turn out fantastic. It is full proof...I swear by it and am always tempted to pick it up as a gift for just about everyone, until I remind myself that most people I know do not have the insane desire to make there own croissants (why i have know idea but I am beginning to understand the crazy that is me and go with it). Of course I did not have cream in the house so I used milk. I am also not a gazillionare so no vanilla beans to be had around here. I was bold enough to say screw it and did without vanilla at all. Usually I am humbled enough to at least substitute for abstract, but I am also getting bold in my old age. The Caramel

While the caramel is cooling to the perfect spreading temp (not to wet not to solid), I trim my cake and prep it for the filling. Next time I do this (and there will be a next time) I will cut the cake into four layers and double the caramel recipe. Why you ask, well it is simple the caramel oozes down into the cake and makes it really quite...yummy. What I never claimed to be a wordsmith. When you have trimmed your cake and poured the caramel into the layers set it aside and start the frosting.

For the frosting I used a recipe from the Barefoot Countessa. I know there are many people out there in the foodie world that look down there noises at the Food-Network kind of cook, but her recipes are lovely, if not heavy on the butter and other yummy fats. These are recipes from a woman who clearly loves life and understands that food is essential to living well. A meal prepared with love is like nothing else, and she gets that. So I will not apologize for my use of this recipe as a base. Or anything else I use of hers. No she cooks the kind of food you remember from your childhood, she understand that a good grilled cheese and warm homemade soup on a cold winter night can be just as satisfying as the butter poached oysters on a bed tapioca served at the French Laundry, and we are like minded in this. P.S. Thomas Keller I LOVE YOU. There is something about her that reminds me of my mother and grandmother. Growing up we were just as likely to find my mother make Vichyssoise for dinner as we were burrito’s Antracoli family style, and we loved them both. Because my mom could cook, and so could her mother and it is a gift that keeps getting passed down. Hell my sister is a history professor in Central Penn trying to start a goat cheese business and I have know doubt that her goat cheese will be tops. So here is the frosting recipe adapted from the frosting recipe from the Barefoot Countessa At Home's coconut cake (the cream cheese and butter remain, everything else changes from the original). The Frosting

When the frosting is prepped and ready to go, just do it. Now from the pictures you can see that I will not be quitting my job to frost cakes professionally anytime soon. I am not ashamed of this in fact I embrace my ugly cake. Because, when finally serve yourself a piece it tastes good, damn good. I did not frost between the layers and after the initial frosting I put one final layer of caramel on top, then frosted over it using a pastry bag. Why do this you may ask. It is definitely a step you can leave out. What I like about this is that there is one layer of caramel that does not get absorbed into the cake and oozes out when you cut into it. Leaving a little pool of caramel on the bottom on ones plate, and Jason says you never have to apologize for pools of caramel and I tend to agree. So there it is Cinnamon Dolce Latte Cake, Starbucks eat your heart out, this takes the dessert cake.

Cinnamon Latte Frosting

Okay before I just list the ingredients here I would like to say that this frosting is not for the faint of heart, or the skinny little bitch in the at the fashion show that thinks that low fat salad dressing is a splurge in the calorie intake...if you know what I am saying.

And the Ingredients are:

1 lb. Cream Cheese
1/2 lb. Unsalted Butter
1 lb. confectioners' sugar (I didn't have this much and it turned out plenty sweet, so don't feel like you have to use the whole pound, I will not judge you if you do)
1 shot espresso. I made have a stove top single shot maker that I used with Illy espresso and I was plenty pleased
Cinnamon to taste (I will be honest I don't know how much I put in, just enough to be tasty)

In your standing mixer, cream butter and cream cheese (have them at room temp helps). Add in the sugar and the espresso. Cinnamon to taste. When it is all blended I let the frosting stiffen up in the fridge for about 15 minute and then I went to town frosting the cake. Don't be shy when tasting to see if there is enough cinnamon (this recipe makes a big enough batch) and always let someone like the beaters.


Stuff you will NEED:

2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tblsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp lemon juice
4 tblsp unsalted butter

Warm milk in sauce pan. In a medium sized heavy sauce pan, combine sugar, water salt and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring until mixture is amber in color about 5 - 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the milk in a slow stream stirring. It will boil vigorously (Tartine's word not mine, I would have said, don't worry if it looks like it is going to explode all is still well). Once mixture does not look like a science project whisk until smooth and add the lemon juice. Let it cool for 10 minutes and add the butter in 1" chunk, whisk them in until they dissolve one at a time.

Cinnamon Spiced Cake

The Goods:

3 1/2 cups flour

4 tsp. baking powder (I didn't have any so I combine cream of tartar with baking soda - so it would rise, which does the trick. I guessed on the proportions and was happy with the result. Ok course yesterday when I got my Bon Appetit in the mail I noticed that they had a recipe for homemade baking powder, a day late and a dollar short BA)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tblsp cinnamon

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla
Splash of White Basalmic Vinegar
1 cup milk

7 to 8 egg whites (beaten until stiff not dry)

So here is the thing, This did not turn out perfect for me and though I have made this cake before it did not get wet enough so I added 5 of the egg yolks. Use your own discretion here if the batter is not loose enough add some yolk.

Anyway, mix the dry together in a bowl and set aside. Do the same with the wet. Cream the butter and sugar together, in the bowl of your standing mixer. Add in the dry and the wet into the mixer alternating until it forms your batter. (Remember no eggs have gone in yet so don't panic YET). Scoop out and set aside. Beat the egg white till stiff not dry. Now fold the egg whites into the batter. If it seem dry add in some yolks. This of course will make the batter no as fluffy because you will have to stir and flatten the egg whites, but oh well. Hopefully this step will not have to happen for you. Then you know put the batter in two round pans (prepped with the butter and flour as us bakers do) and put them in a oven all ready to go at 375. This should take 20 minutes to bake up. If you are me it will still be all gooey in the center at this point and you will bake it for another 20 minutes and that will be five to long and trimming will be essential in the end. Don't worry though I have found that when you slather a cake in dairy fats and sugar no one says "you know it was very tasty but a little dry" and if they do the preferred response it "well then make your own damn cake".