Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Move Over, Cake Boss! A Do It Yourself Special Occasion Cake

If you have a special occasion coming up, surprise your guests with this scrumptious and elegant cake. I have been making this cake as a "grand finale" at celebratory dinners for over 20 years. It's rich color and fine crumb always leave my guests clamoring for more. It takes some time to make, but it's well worth the effort.
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I would love to hear your questions or comments about this recipe. It sounds a little complicated, but don't let it intimidate you. They'll be callin' you "Cake Boss" in no time!

Makes 2 8inch round layers, serves 8-10.

2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sweet butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
grated zest and juice of one orange
1/3 cup Grand Marnier (or orange flavored liquor of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8 inch round pans (spring form, if possible). Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. With an electric mixer at high speed, cream the butter until pale and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually, mixing at medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until the mixture lightens, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula.                                                                

Add the vanilla extract to the milk. Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the mixture, one-third at a time, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.Combine the juice and grated zest and mix into the batter. Divide mixture between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the layers in the pans on wire racks first (very important). Then remove them from the pans while still slightly warm, and allow them to cool completely on the racks.                                                                                                                                      

1/2 cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup sweet butter, cold but not hard
juice of one orange
finely grated zest of 2 oranges

Cut the butter into tablespoon size pieces. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer over a pan one-third full of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water or the mixture will cook rather than heat.) Whisk until the sugar is partially dissolved and the mixture is warm. Using an electric mixer, whip the mixture at high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating until the meringue cools to room temperature.                                                                             

Beating at medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. (Hang in there, you are nearly finished!) When all the butter has been added, increase to high speed and beat just until the butter cream is smooth and light. Add orange juice and zest slowly, with mixer at medium speed.  Scrape bottom and sides of the bowl, and then beat briefly at high speed. This recipe generously fills and frosts two 8 inch layers.                                  

To arrange the cake, choose your serving platter, and place the first layer on it. sprinkle approx. half of the Grand Marnier over the top, then frost the top and sides. You will want to make the top layer of frosting extra thick. Then place the next layer on top of the first, and sprinkle the rest of the Grand Mariner over it. Frost the top and sides, smoothing out with a pastry knife. If need be, refrigerate for about 20 minutes, and then smooth the frosting again. Decorate with fresh flowers and leaves, if desired. (I usually cover the stem of the flowers with a layer of tin foil first.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.                                                                                                                                                

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